I tasted my first kiwi nearly 30 years ago at the Western Fair in London, Ont.
The hairy, egg-shaped fruit with soft green flesh and a tropical flavour, originally called Chinese gooseberry, had just arrived from New Zealand.
PR spokesperson extraordinaire Swerling-Puritt was charged with introducing the fruit across the country. Since most of us had never seen a kiwi, she handed out tiny holders and plastic spoons and showed us how to cut off the top and scoop the flesh like a soft-boiled egg.
Kiwis quickly became a colourful addition to fruit salads, yet they’ve never vaulted into our top 10 list as they have in many other countries, says Glen Arrowsmith, North American market manager for the Zespri brand. In fact the kiwi sits at #21 on our list of favourite fruits.
That may be about to change as more Canadians discover Zespri’s SunGold kiwi, with its thin, smooth skin and almost translucent flesh.
Arrowsmith says SunGolds have grown 270% in terms of volume in Canada in the past two years, and he sees unlimited potential for the golden fruit, which appeared here in 2013.
“We think it’s the tropical sweet flavor, the smooth, juicy texture and the sweet-sour balance that gives it more depth of flavour,” says Arrowsmith, who recently moved to LA where his kids delight in introducing gold kiwis to their classmates.
“SunGold remains in ready-to-eat condition for longer than the green Hayward variety,” he adds, “so you can get a perfect eating experience for several more days.”
In another 10 years Arrowsmith predicts we’ll also be eating red-fleshed kiwis, which look promising in trials in New Zealand, home to the world’s largest breeding program. He’s also seen yellow-fleshed kiwis with red centres and green kiwis with red centres from China, where they grow naturally.
“I’ve eaten red kiwis with a magical sweet berry flavour,” he says. “They’re coming, but it takes a long time to establish production.”
No matter what their colour, he says kiwis are one of the world’s most nutrient-dense fruits and make the perfect snack any time of day. Just cut in half at the equator, take a spoon and scoop!
Buy & Store
- New Zealand SunGold kiwis are available from May until late December. Golds from Italy and Chile should be available for another few months. Green kiwis are available year-round from various countries.
- Choose firm, unblemished fruit.
- To check ripeness, hold kiwi in your palm and squeeze gently. A ripe kiwi will yield to slight pressure like an avocado or peach.
- Even when still fairly firm, SunGold kiwis will be perfect as they soften from the inside out.
- To ripen, leave out at room temperature for three to seven days.
- Store ripe kiwifruit in the refrigerator up to two weeks.
- Green kiwis contain an enzyme that causes an allergic reaction in some people. You may not have the same issue with gold kiwis but check with your doctor.
- Rinse and eat!
- For a snack, cut in half and scoop out the flesh or cut lengthwise into quarters.
- For salads and other recipes, peel and cut into circles or cubes.
- Most people find the skin too leathery, though it is perfectly edible.
- Kiwis lose their bright colour when heated, so add near the end of cooking.
- Kiwis contain an enzyme, actinidin, that acts as a meat tenderizer. To use, mash a few slices with a fork, mix with meat and let sit at least 20 minutes before cooking to improve taste and texture.
- Don’t use fresh kiwi in gelatin desserts as the gelatin won’t set.
- Gold and green kiwis add nutrition, taste, colour and natural sweetness to smoothies.
- Chop into salsa or try Zespri’s new cranberry relish (zesprikiwi.com).
- Make a Kiwi-tini with vodka for holiday parties.
KIWI SHRIMP COCKTAIL
This light, colourful Zespri appetizer is a refreshing change from traditional shrimp cocktail.
20 jumbo shrimp (1 lb/450 g), boiled, peeled and chilled
½ cup (125 mL) Greek yogurt
6 large fresh basil leaves
1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
4 gold kiwis
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lime juice
2 tbsp (30 mL) avocado or olive oil
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
Garnish: 1 lime, cut in wedges
Peel three kiwis and slice thinly. Set aside.
Scoop out flesh from remaining kiwi and place in food processor with yogurt, basil, avocado flesh, lime juice, oil and salt. Or use immersion blender. Process until smooth.
Divide mixture evenly among four martini glasses. Line inside of each glass with kiwi slices in a single layer.
Hang 5 shrimp over the edge of each glass (tail facing out) and garnish with fresh basil. Serve with lime wedges.
Makes 4 servings.