October 01, 2020
Kiwifruit (often shortened to kiwi outside Australia and New Zealand) or Chinese gooseberry is the edible berry of several species of woody vines in the genus Actinidia. The most common cultivar group of kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa 'Hayward') is oval, about the size of a large hen's egg: 5–8 centimeters in length and 4.5–5.5 cm in diameter. It has a thin, fuzzy, fibrous, tart but edible light brown skin and light green or golden flesh with rows of tiny, black, edible seeds. The fruit has a soft texture with a sweet and unique flavor. In 2018, China produced half of the world's total of kiwifruit. Kiwifruit is native to central and eastern China. The first recorded description of the kiwifruit dates to the 12th century during the Song dynasty. The fruit became popular with British and American servicemen stationed in New Zealand during World War II, and later became commonly exported, first to Great Britain and then to California in the 1960s.
Kiwifruit is picked by hand and commercially grown on sturdy support structures, as it can produce several tonnes per hectare, more than the rather weak vines can support. These are generally equipped with a watering system for irrigation and frost protection in the spring.
Kiwifruit vines require vigorous pruning, similar to that of grapevines. The fruit is borne on one-year-old and older canes, but production declines as each cane ages. Canes should be pruned off and replaced after their third year. In the northern hemisphere, the fruit ripens in November, while in the southern it ripens in May. Four-year-old plants can produce up to 14,000 lbs per acre while eight-year-old plants can produce 18,000 lbs per acre. The plants produce their maximum at 8 to 10 years old. The seasonal yields are variable, a heavy crop on a vine one season generally comes with a light crop the following season.
Fruits harvested when firm, will ripen when stored properly for long periods. This allows the fruit to be sent to the market up to 8 weeks after harvest. Firm kiwifruit ripens after a few days to a week when stored at room temperature, but should not be kept in direct sunlight. Faster ripening occurs when placed in a paper bag with an apple, pear, or banana. Once a kiwifruit is ripe, however, it is preserved optimally when stored far from other fruits, as it is very sensitive to the ethylene gas they may emit, thereby tending to over-ripen even in the refrigerator. If stored appropriately, ripe kiwifruit normally keeps for about one to two weeks.
Traditionally in China, kiwifruit was not eaten for pleasure but was given as medicine to children to help them grow and to women who have given birth to help them recover.
In a 100-gram amount, green kiwifruit provides 61 calories, is 83% water, and 15% carbohydrates, with negligible protein and fat. It is particularly rich in vitamin C and vitamin K, has a moderate content of vitamin E, with no other micronutrients in significant content. Gold kiwifruit has similar nutritional value, but higher vitamin C content.
Here are some interesting facts about kiwifruit: