The kiwifruit is a native of China, and is also known as the Chinese gooseberry. It has grown wild there since the dawn of time in mountainous areas.
Seeds were taken to England in the 19th century, and the Chinese gooseberry began to acclimatize well in different European gardens, but without arousing great interest.
It was introduced in the United States, more specifically California, in 1904, and then New Zealand two years later.
There it was developed and improved to produce larger fruit, and it was given the name of kiwifruit because its fuzzy skin recalled that of the now-endangered member of the Apteryx bird family, which is the emblem of that country: the "kiwi".
New Zealand had a monopoly on kiwifruit until the 1980s. It was subsequently grown in southern Europe. The leading producers are now Italy, New Zealand, France, Greece, Australia, and the United States.
A ripe kiwifruit should be soft to the touch, but not too soft, and there should be no blemishes.
Most kiwifruit are sold before ripening, but they ripen easily in a few days.
Besides fresh, kiwifruit come frozen, diced, sliced, pureed, and dried in slices.
Kiwifruit that are not fully ripe should be stored at room temperature. If they are very ripe, they should be kept in a refrigerator or cool room.
Kiwifruit are high in sweet fiber (pectin from the seeds), minerals, antioxidant carotenoids and polyphenols, and vitamins E and C. Fruit from New Zealand have the highest nutritional value.
Like all fruit, they contain carbohydrates, practically no proteins, and no fat.
The green color of its flesh comes from the chlorophyll that is found in generous amounts in the fruit.
They contain an enzyme, actinidin, which, like the bromelain from pineapples, breaks down proteins. They also produce allergic reactions in some people.
There are a number of varieties of kiwifruit on the market.
Hayward is the most common and most widely grown. Monty (gray and smaller in size), Bruno (brown and a little elongated), Abbitt (brown and pear-shaped), and Solo (brown and smaller in size) are less common.
Zespri Gold âand Sorelli have sweet skin, sweet yellow flesh, and a more elongated shape.
Kiwifruit are produced in Southern Europe and the United States from November through May. During the summer through to the beginning of the fall, it is imported, usually from New Zealand.
There are many varieties in China, the original home of the kiwifruit: different sizes, the smallest being the size of a grape, smooth or fuzzy skin, red, yellow, orange, and green.
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