Kiwi is the common name given to the Actinidia chinensis; although I prefer 'Wide Awake' to describe this little fuzzy beauty of a fruit.
Kiwis are my 'Wide Awake' fruit partly because of their high enzyme content and their easy digestibility.
A breakfast 'shot' of this vivid green, enzyme-rich fruit is a great way to start any day. I guarantee that your eyes will be wider open after a Kiwi breakfast- try it and see!
Kiwis are also super high in Vitamin C. One Kiwi has the Vitamin C content of ten Lemons!
So Kiwis are a cocktail of vitality, great for improving one's energy and vitamin levels. A fantastic antedote to 'the morning after', as those enzymes and vitamins set to work to help counteract all the free radicals milling about inside you. Or if you are a good little fruitarian who does not know the meaning of 'the morning after'; then they are just great for 'the morning NOW'!
Kiwis also contain more Vitamin E than Avocados and they are a low fat food; this really helps to bolster Vitamin E reserves in the body. This is because the majority of foods high in Vitamin E are also high in fat; as Vitamin E is needed by the body to process fats. Therefore a food, like Kiwi, that is not only high in Vitamin E but also is low in fat provides more Vitamin E for other functions within the body, as little of the food's Vitamin E is used up in fat digestion.
Kiwis are also rich in Folic acid and Potassium and they provide good amounts of fibre.
Going back to their botanical name: 'chinensis', gives a clue to the Kiwi's true origins. In the early nineteenth century Kiwi seeds were taken from the Yangtze Valley in China by Mr. James McGregor. McGregor gave these seeds to a Mr. Alexander Allison; who grew them at Wanganui, New Zealand. Allison got his first Kiwi crop in 1910 and all present day New Zealand varieties have been developed from these original seeds.
Another Kiwi seed spreader and Pioneer was Ms. Isobel Frazer; Frazer was a New Zealand school teacher, who was taking a vacation in China. Like McGregor, Frazer also brought back Kiwi seeds to New Zealand from the upper Yangtze River in Southern China. On her return, in 1904, she propagated the seeds in her home country. Another clue to the Kiwi's Eastern origins, comes from the name 'Chinese Gooseberry' used (now seldomly) for the Kiwi.
Other Names for the Kiwi.
The Chinese Name is:- Yang tao or Qi Wei Guo. In France ( I LOVE this one!) they call the Kiwi 'Souris Vegetale' (Vegetable Mouse)!!Too cute. What a great description for this little furry rodent of a fruit! The Japanese name is Kiwi Furutsu. In many other countries, for example Italy, Germany and Sweden the name Kiwi is used. The Kiwi grows on a vine, not on a tree or a bush. There are both male and female vines and both are needed for successful insect pollination. The large, pale yellow kiwi flowers (male and female) develop at the same time; so to get a crop one needs both male and female vines planted in close proximity to one another. Out of the 40 or so Actinidid species, only two others besides the Kiwi produce fruit edible to humans.
Actinidia arguta vine with fruit.
Actinidia arguta, see photo above, grows in Japan and Russia and is known by the common name Kokowa, in Japan. Actinidia Kolomikta, the third species, grows mainly in Russia and is grown for its decorative foliage as well as its fruits.It is sometimes called the Arctic Beauty Kiwi.
The Development of the Kiwi.
Kiwis, already very popular in New Zealand; only started to be commercially exported in 1953. The first Kiwis arriving by boat in London, for the company T.J.Poupart.
In this year 2,500 trays were exported from New Zealand.
By 1981 the figure had jumped to six and a half million trays.
Today, the Kiwi is available year round from various producer countries including: New Zealand, Australia, Israel, France, Italy, Spain, Chile, Guernsey and the U.S.A. (California).
In the past few years an exciting new development in Kiwi Land has been taking the world by storm. from Australasia to Europe to the Americas - the 'Golden Kiwi' is set to become a firm favourite. The Golden Kiwi has a smoother and lighter coloured skin than its green cousin. It is also sweeter, creamier and less acidic; with even more Vitamin C than the original green Vegetable Mouse. One you open the Golden Kiwi , it becomes apparent why it is so named; the flesh is a beautiful light gold colour.
Golden Kiwis, both organic and conventional, are now being grown extensively in New Zealand. However, they are also being cultivated in Italy and California.
The Golden Kiwi was first developed by New Zealand growers in the late 1970's. Fruits were found in China, that were small and yellow fleshed and had a great flavour. A female plant of this type was crossed with a traditional green male plant that had large succulent fruit. - And so the Golden Kiwi was born! This golden hybrid was developed at the New Zealand Crown Research Institute. The Golden Kiwi is 'patented' by the Zespri company in New Zealand. Overseas growers need a license in order to be able to grow this delightful golden fruit.
Varieties of Kiwi
Abbot - An early variety , also a good 'keeper'. this kiwi actually tastes like a Gooseberry and helps to explain how the term 'Chinese Gooseberry' originated. it is very long in shape and looks like it
has been stretched out!
Bruno - A small, oval variety, popular in Germany.
Golden or Gold Kiwi - As mentioned in the development section, a sweet golden fleshed, low acid hybrid.
Fresh Gold Kiwis
Hayward - A later season variety. probably the most popular of the green varieties. Hayward was developed by a New Zealand nurseryman called Hayward Wright. Hayward is also a large variety, up to 120gms (4.5 oz), and is a good 'keeper'.Matua - A small, pretty Kiwi; mainly grown in California.Plancon - A cigar shaped, fuzzy Kiwi; which grows well in Italy. this variety does not keep so well and therefor is not likely to be widely exported. Tomuri - a variety grown mostly in California. A sweet and flavoursome kiwi, it resembles the Hayward variety in looks but is lighter brown in colour.
The Kiwi Today.
The Kiwi continues to grow in popularity. It often makes it on to the 'Best Fruits' or 'Superfoods' lists.
One example of this is the placing of the Kiwi in Dr. Steven Pratt's list of 'Superfoods' in his 'Superfoods Lifestyle' book. The Kiwi is immensely popular in Italy. The Italians eat more Kiwis than any other European nation and in Italy they consume seven times more Kiwis, per head, than in the U.S.A.
So, although having its deep roots in China; the Kiwi only really caught on, at an International level, once it reached the shores of New Zealand.
Today Kiwis thrive in many countries and are exported to many, many more.
Due to many varieties having great keeping qualities, Kiwis are a fruit that travel well and it is rare to find a country where they are unavailable. Their good keeping qualities, high density nutrient content and high enzyme count; not to mention their increasing inclusion on 'Superfoods' listings, make them a favourite fruit and also a very healthy one.