With its green flesh and distinctive brown skin, kiwi, an oddball winter fruit, hits its peak when most others are long gone. Its unusual taste is like a summer smoothie; part banana, strawberry and melon with a tropical twist. That makes fresh kiwi an interesting alternative for cold weather meals and munching.
Originally called Chinese gooseberry (although no relation to gooseberries), kiwifruit were first introduced accidentally to New Zealand in 1904. According to kiwi lore, the principal of a girl’s school brought back some seeds from China as a souvenir.
In their native China, these hairy berries are called mihoutao — “macaque fruit” — a reference to the macaque monkeys that love to eat kiwifruit in the wild. (Only recently did China become the world’s leading commercial grower of kiwi, primarily for jam.) Now, kiwifruit are grown extensively around the world in areas with a Mediterranean climate.
About the size of a chicken’s egg when mature, kiwifruit grow on woody vines, much like grapes, and need extensive trellising to support the heavy fruit. Also like grapes, kiwi are a hands-on fruit, requiring careful pruning and harvesting. A nearby male vine is needed to pollinate female plants.
Our American appetite for kiwifruit continues to steadily grow, although on average we eat just about a pound of kiwis annually. It’s a nutritional powerhouse with more vitamin C per ounce than oranges and more potassium than a banana. As a winter fruit, it’s available when little else is fresh.
This refreshing (and green) lemonade is great straight or spike it with a splash of vodka for a kiwi cocktail. This makes four servings (recipe courtesy California Kiwifruit). What you need:
▪ One cup water.
▪ Half cup granulated sugar.
▪ Half cup packed fresh mint leaves.
▪ Three California kiwifruit.
▪ Two to three lemons.
▪ Sparkling water.
In a medium saucepan, heat water with sugar over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Simmer, uncovered, five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in mint leaves. Let stand 20 minutes
Meanwhile, peel kiwifruit and cut into chunks. Puree in a food processor. Place puree in a pitcher. Strain cooled syrup into pitcher, pressing on mint, then discard leaves. Refrigerate until cold. Squeeze juice from two lemons. Stir into kiwifruit mixture. Taste, squeeze in juice from remaining lemon for a tarter lemonade.
Pour into glasses. Top with sparkling water. Serve garnished with a slice of kiwifruit. Makes about two and a quarter cups without sparkling water, enough for 4 drinks.
This colorful salad travels well, which makes it a good pick for festive gatherings. This makes four to six servings. What you need (recipe courtesy California Kiwifruit):
▪ Three-quarters cup water.
▪ Half a cup couscous.
▪ Three California kiwifruit.
▪ One yellow or orange pepper.
▪ One cup cherry tomatoes.
▪ Quarter cup Kalamata olives, preferably spicy.
▪ Three green onions, thinly sliced.
▪ One tablespoon red wine vinegar.
▪ Three tablespoon olive oil.
▪ One garlic clove, minced.
▪ One teaspoon dried oregano leaves.
▪ Half cup crumbled feta cheese.
▪ Half cup shredded fresh basil.
In a small saucepan, lightly salt water then bring to a boil. Add couscous, stir, cover and remove from heat. Let stand until water is absorbed, about five minutes.
Peel kiwifruit and cut into bite-size chunks. Dice pepper and slice large cherry tomatoes in half. Pit olives if needed and thinly slice green onions. Place all in a medium bowl.
For dressing, whisk vinegar with oil, garlic, oregano and generous pinches salt and pepper. When couscous has cooled, gently stir with kiwifruit mixture. Toss with as much dressing as needed to just coat. Stir in feta and basil; serve.
Note: Salad will keep well refrigerated for one to two days.
This winter fruit salad provides pretty red and green contrasts for the holiday table. It makes four to five servings. What you need (recipe courtesy California Kiwifruit). What you need:
▪ One fresh winter pear, cored and cubed.
▪ One red apple, cored and thinly sliced.
▪ Lemon or lime juice
▪ One can (eight ounces) jellied cranberry sauce, divided.
▪ Two California kiwifruit, pared and sliced.
▪ Red leaf lettuce.
▪ A third of a cup dairy sour cream.
Dip pear and apple in lemon juice to prevent darkening. Reserve three tablespoons cranberry sauce; slice remainder into quarter slices. Arrange kiwifruit, cranberry sauce slices, pear and apple on lettuce.
For dressing, combine sour cream with three tablespoons reserved cranberry sauce and one teaspoon lemon juice. Drizzle over fruit and serve.