Chinese gooseberry, more commonly known as kiwi fruit, is native to China. It is thought to have been in cultivation since the 12th Century. Generally speaking, kiwi fruit is oval and has fuzzy skin that is edible. The skin is brown and inside you will have green flesh with lots of tiny black edible seeds. The flesh is soft and the fruit itself has an unusual taste full of sweetness and it’s packed full of nutrients.
The name ‘kiwi’ was derived from the kiwi bird – the fuzzy appearance was believed to resemble the bird. Kiwi fruit was originally used for medicinal reasons and wasn’t grown for any other reasons. The fruit gained traction once the British and American servicemen started consuming them while stationed. Kiwi fruit belongs to the genus Actinidia, of which there are approximately 60 species.
What is Kiwi Fruit?
You might be surprised to learn that the skin of kiwi fruit is perfectly safe for consumption. It has a somewhat odd, hairy appearance that might not seem too appealing.
The skin has lots of health benefits though and helps with the uptake of fibre. Under the brown skin, you will find soft, green flesh. Within this flesh, you can easily spot the many tiny black seeds that exist in every single kiwi. These are completely edible and do not ruin the texture or taste of this succulent fruit.
Although a somewhat exotic fruit, you can grow your kiwis here in the UK with time and effort. Choosing a hardy variety is wise as the great British weather can be very unpredictable. Kiwi fruit can be harvested between August and September after the tree has been planted for 3 or 4 years. Pick the fruits before the frosts start and they will continue to ripen indoors.
Did You Know?
- Kiwis make popular face mask ingredients. Got some going to waste? Why not pop them on your skin.
- In China, Kiwis are called “Yang Toa” which translates to “sunny peach”.
- Kiwi trees can reach up to 10 metres in height.
- Bees are the main pollinator for kiwi fruit.
- Kiwi allergies are more common now than ever before.
What Does Kiwi Fruit Taste Like?
Kiwi fruit can be labelled as being both sweet and sour which can be hard to understand unless you have eaten one.
They are a little tart, but not in an unpleasant way. Their flavour cannot be compared to any other fruit – they are a unique flavour. The flesh is soft, almost squishy when completely ripe and some people prefer to eat them with a fork or spoon.
Popular Ways to Eat Kiwi?
You can eat kiwi fruit with its skin still intact or you can peel the fruit, chop, and then enjoy. Not everyone likes the texture of the skin so this can be removed.
Got a Kiwi fruit glut to use up?Kiwis are popular in smoothies and they blend very easily. They are also a great fruit for small children due to their soft nature. You can also make kiwi jam which is not one you can readily buy in the supermarkets. In the summer months, you can experiment with kiwi fruit salad or sorbet.
Kiwi Knowledge Panel
Scientific Name: Actinidia Deliciosa
Fruit Family: Actinidiaceae
Related to: Kiwi berries and golden kiwi fruits
How to Grow Kiwi
Kiwi trees have the potential to not only make wonderful ornamental displays but also to produce heavy crops.
You need to have robust support for your kiwi plant as they do climb and left unsupported, will ultimately break. You need to plant your kiwi plant between March and May as they are not frost resistant. Any late frost can be dealt with by using some horticultural fleece on your tree. Your plant will need equal amounts of sun and shelter – they will not do well in the shade. You can opt to grow a smaller kiwi tree by choosing one that can be grown in a container.
Harvesting Kiwi Fruit
You should be able to gently squeeze your kiwis as this is the best indicator that they are ready to be harvested. In the UK, the fruit is ready to be picked between August and September and can be popped on a sunny windowsill to ripen fully. You can leave them on the tree beyond September but be sure to pick them up before the frost season begins.
How to Use Kiwi
Kiwi fruit is one of the easier fruits to eat or use in a recipe because there are no stones to remove. The seeds found inside kiwis are perfectly edible and when whizzing up in a smoothie or juice add a varied texture.
Kiwis can complement both sweet and savoury dishes so they have a use for any occasion. They make a change in a savoury salad and of course, make a healthy addition to a fruit salad too. Kiwis are also tasty when they are added to cake recipes for a different taste and texture.
Freezing kiwis mean you can pop them away and use them at a time convenient to you.
Kiwi Fruit Nutrition
Often regarded as one of the world’s superfoods, Kiwis are nutritious as well as have a unique taste. Full of many important vitamins, kiwi fruit is also low in calories, making it a great choice of food.
- Vitamins C, E & K
How Many Calories in Kiwi Fruit?
100g of kiwi contains 61 calories per 100g and has 14.6g of carbohydrates and 0.52g of fat.
Kiwi Fruit Health Benefits
Most people know that kiwi fruit is regarded as healthy, nutritious and beneficial but they may not realise just what health benefits they bring.
Kiwis are rich in antioxidants that help keep your body healthy and stop free radicals from building up. The buildup of free radicals can cause body stress which can ultimately lead to disease.
High Vitamin C Content
Getting the required amount of Vitamin C keeps your body strong and enables it to recover from illness or injury. As well as this, Vitamin C keeps your skin and body producing collagen.
Kiwi fruit contains serotonin which helps to encourage a healthy sleeping pattern. Eating kiwi fruit regularly may help with any sleep disorders.
Kiwis are rich in antioxidants which helps maintain good heart health. Potassium in kiwis keeps the blood vessels relaxed which can help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Promotes Healthy Pregnancies
During pregnancy, women are encouraged to up their intake of folate and kiwi fruit has a good amount of this.
You can eat kiwi skin but you may choose not to due to the hairy texture. Either way is fine but there is lots of goodness in a kiwi skin. The skin contains lots of fibre, folate and vitamin E which are all essential for good health.
Guinea pigs can eat kiwi but this should not be a daily treat due to the high sugar content. Instead, stick to it being an occasional treat that supplements their main diet.
Kiwi is not a citrus fruit because it belongs to a different genus than that of the citrus. Kiwis do not contain as much acidity as citrus fruits such as limes. They do, however, have similar nutritional values as citrus fruits.
Generally speaking, babies can eat kiwi and due to the texture, it makes a great first solid food choice. However, if you have allergies within the family it is best to speak to your doctor before introducing kiwi fruit to their diet. You do not need to remove the seeds for your baby to enjoy – simply chop them up into bite-size pieces.