Kiwifruit
3 mins read

Kiwifruit

Introduction

Kiwifruit, also known as Chinese gooseberry, is a small, furry, and oval-shaped fruit with a bright green or yellowish-green skin and a vibrant green or golden flesh. Native to China, kiwifruit has become a popular fruit worldwide, prized for its unique taste, high nutritional value, and numerous health benefits.

Etymology

The name “kiwifruit” comes from the kiwi bird, a small, flightless bird native to New Zealand, where the fruit was first commercialized. The name was chosen because of the fruit’s small size and fuzzy skin, which resembles the bird’s feathers.

Description

Kiwifruit is a small fruit, typically around 5-8 cm (2-3 inches) in length and 4-5 cm (1.5-2 inches) in width. Its skin is thin, fuzzy, and edible, while its flesh is juicy, sweet, and slightly tart. The fruit has a central core containing numerous small, black seeds.

Taxonomy and Cultivars

Kiwifruit belongs to the Actinidiaceae family and is scientifically known as Actinidia deliciosa. There are several cultivars, including:

CultivarDescription
HaywardMost widely cultivated, with a smooth skin and bright green flesh
Golden KiwifruitHas a golden-yellow skin and flesh, sweeter than Hayward
Red KiwifruitHas a reddish-pink skin and flesh, with a sweeter and tangier taste
Kiwi PlumA hybrid of kiwifruit and plum, with a smooth skin and sweet flesh

Distribution and Habitat

Kiwifruit is native to southern China, but it is now cultivated in many countries with a subtropical climate, including New Zealand, Italy, Chile, and the United States. It grows best in well-drained soil and a frost-free environment.

Cultivation

Kiwifruit is typically grown on a trellis or other support system, as it is a climbing vine. It requires regular pruning, fertilization, and pest management to ensure optimal production.

Production

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the top kiwifruit-producing countries in 2020 were:

CountryProduction (tonnes)
China2,253,339
New Zealand393,333
Italy144,851
Chile123,119
United States63,639

Uses

Kiwifruit is a versatile fruit, enjoyed fresh, dried, or used in various products such as:

  • Juice and smoothies
  • Jam and preserves
  • Salads and desserts
  • Skincare products, due to its high antioxidant content

Phytochemistry

Kiwifruit contains various bioactive compounds, including:

  • Vitamin C: one of the richest sources among fruits
  • Potassium: an essential mineral for heart health
  • Fiber: supports healthy digestion and bowel function
  • Antioxidants: protects against oxidative stress and inflammation

Flavor

Kiwifruit has a unique, sweet and slightly tart taste, often described as a combination of strawberry, pineapple, and banana flavors.

Toxicity

Kiwifruit is generally safe to eat, but some people may be allergic to its proteins or experience oral allergy syndrome.

Nutrition

Kiwifruit is a nutrient-dense food, providing:

  • High amounts of vitamin C and potassium
  • Good source of fiber, vitamin K, and folate
  • Low in calories and fat

Culture

Kiwifruit has become a cultural symbol in New Zealand, featuring on the country’s $1 coin and being celebrated during the annual Kiwifruit Festival.

“As kiwifruit is to New Zealand, so is the kiwi bird – small, unique, and full of character.” – Unknown

In conclusion, kiwifruit is a small but mighty superfood, offering a unique taste, high nutritional value, and numerous health benefits. Its versatility, cultural significance, and growing global popularity make it a fruit worth discovering and enjoying.