Although its name derives from New Zealand’s national symbol, the flightless kiwi bird, the kiwifruit is not native to the region. Introduced to New Zealand only in the 1900s, the kiwifruit’s roots actually lie in China’s Yangtze Valley where it was referred to as mihoutao, or macaque fruit — a reference to the species of forest-dwelling monkeys that liked eating the fruit. Found growing wild in the valley’s hills, the kiwifruit was relished for its bright, emerald green flesh and is said to have been considered a delicacy among the ancient Mongols — a nomadic group who lived in the vast grasslands of Eurasia. The Chinese, particularly children and women post-childbirth, consumed kiwifruits as a tonic due to its high nutritional value which, alongside its delicious taste, makes it sought-after till today.
NUTRITIOUS FROM PEEL TO FLESH
Now widely cultivated in many countries besides China, namely New Zealand, the United States, Italy, and Chile, the kiwifruit is consumed globally and for good reason. A berry by nature, the fruit’s juicy green flesh is dense with nutrition, leading many to dub it as a superfood. With twice as much Vitamin C than the average orange and high-fibre content, it effectively boosts the immune system and aids with digestion. Not only that, but it’s also a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese, which are essential minerals that help the body grow, develop and stay healthy. Unknown to many, the kiwifruit’s often discarded brown, fuzzy peel, is actually more antioxidant-rich than the fruit’s flesh and can be consumed by partially scrubbing its strange texture off with a clean towel.
STRIPPING BACK SWEET AND SOUR FLAVOURS
Albeit still relatively underutilised compared to other fruit, the kiwifruit is often incorporated into creamy smoothies, healthy salads and delightful desserts. Characterised as being sour yet slightly sweet, the kiwifruit’s distinct flavour perfectly complements sweeter notes, making it easy to add into an array of recipes. While macerated and incorporated into chilled treats such as granitas, ice cream and gelato in Italy, the kiwifruit’s fresh form is preferred by New Zealanders who frequently garnish their national dessert, pavlova, with slices of the fruit. A suitable alternative for citruses, the kiwifruit’s refreshing juice even makes for an excellent base in summer drinks and cocktails.