Thursday, October 25, 2007

The wonderful Kiwi!

Ah, the Kiwi. This Asian fruit holds the honor of being my daughter's favorite. I swear, she could eat a dozen of these things and not even think about it.

According to the California Rare Fruit Growers (, there are seven main species of Kiwi: Chinese Egg Gooseberry (Actinidia coriacea); Kiwifruit (A. deliciosa); Hardy Kiwi (A. arguta); Super-hardy Kiwi (A. kolomikta); Red Kiwi (A. melanandra); Silver Vine (A. polygama) and Purple Kiwi (A. purpurea).

Kiwifruit in the store is typically from a cultivar or hybrid of A deliciosa. While this Kiwi typically requires a long frost-free growing season of about 240 days, there are hybrids and cultivars of the Hardy Kiwi and Super-Hardy Kiwi that can survive and grow in the midwestern states.

They may not thrive, but they will survive and bear fruit. According to the University of Illinois, the Hardy Kiwi will grow in most gardens and produce large grape-like fruit that can be eaten, peel and all.

from the University of Wisconsin-

  1. A. rufa
  2. A. melanandra (red kiwi)
  3. A. glaucophylla
  4. A. chinensis
  5. A. latifolia
  6. A. indochinensis
  7. A. chinensis 'Hort16A'
  8. A. macrosperma
  9. A. arguta (Hardy Kiwi)
  10. A. fulvicoma
  11. A. deliciosa 'Hayward'
  12. A. arguta var. purpurea (purple kiwi)
  13. A. guilinensis
  14. A. setosa
  15. A. chrysantha
  16. A. eriantha

Oh, and what a variety of fruit. The Kiwi found in grocery stores are huge in comparison to the fruit from the Hardy Kiwi.

Originally from the forests of China, this plant was brought to New Zealand for commercial cultivation. The Kiwi typically grows as a woody, twining vine. They are dioecious, meaning there are male and female plants. The viability of the female and male flower is rather short and as such, is very dependent on bees or other insects for effective pollination.

While there is little commercial cultivation of Kiwis in the states, outside of California, given enough work, I think these could be a nice, much sought-after specialty crop. For me, it is certainly one to watch and do more research.

A subject very important to my daughter, is how to store or preserve them. According to what I have found on the internet, there are three basic ways to preserve Kiwi: freezing; drying and mixing with strawberries to make a strawberry-kiwi jam or jelly. I have frozen them before and while the flavor remains, they do get to be a bit squishy. As for the strawberry-kiwi jam, I have ever made it, but have enjoyed it once or twice on hot toast. Mmmmm...... yummy...

Internet Kiwi References:
Kiwi information from the University of Wisconsin:

Kiwifruit and Hardy Kiwi info from the California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.

Kiwi information from the University of Illinois

Nutritional data on the Kiwi

North American Fruit Explorers – Kiwifruit Interest Group

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