On the outside, a kiwi fruit looks like a fuzzy brown egg, appropriate, since it is named after a fuzzy flightless brown bird. Once considered an exotic specialty, kiwi fruit has become immensely popular during the past two decades, and deservedly so. When you cut (or bite) through its thin brown skin, which is covered with a downy fuzz, you reach velvety bright green flesh sprinkled with a ring of tiny, edible black seeds. The taste of kiwi fruit, which varies from sweet to tart, has been compared with a combination of other fruits, such as strawberries, nectarines, and melons. Kiwi fruit blends well with other fruits and makes a striking garnish, but it is also highly satisfying (and nutritious) eaten on its own. gram for , it is higher in vitamin C than most fruits and is a good source of potassium.
The kiwi fruit was a much appreciated treat in ancient China, and was introduced into New Zealand in 1906, where it was called the "Chinese gooseberry" (although it isn't related to the green gooseberry). Years later, as foreign demand for the fruit increased, New Zealanders renamed it after their national symbol, the kiwi bird. Today, kiwi fruit is also a commercial crop in California. New Zealand and California have opposite growing seasons; consequently, a year-round supply is available. (The fruit keeps well for up to 10 months in cold storage, allowing it to be brought to market for several months after it is harvested.) Both New Zealand and California produce one principal variety, the Hayward.
For the sweetest, fullest flavour, choose plump, fragrant kiwi fruit that yield to gentle pressure, like ripe peaches. Unripe fruit has a hard core and a tart, astringent taste. If only firm kiwis are available, ripen them for a few days before eating them. Reject shriveled or mushy fruits, or those with bruises or wet spots.
To ripen firm kiwis, leave them at room temperature, but away from heat or direct sunlight, for a few days to a week. Hasten ripening by placing them in a paper bag with an apple, pear, or banana. Once a kiwi fruit is ripe, however, store it far from other fruits, as it is very sensitive to the ethylene gas they emit, and tends to over ripen even in the refrigerator. Ripe kiwis should keep for about one to two weeks.
Kiwi fruit can be peeled with a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife. (Peeling is easier if the ends of the fruit are cut off first.) To eat the fruit with a spoon, cut it in half crosswise or lengthwise and scoop out the flesh. If the peachlike fuzz is rubbed off, the fruit can be eaten skin and all.