Hello my dear readers,
Another week is here, this means another opportunity to start enjoying our life 🙂
This week, let’s discover the kiwi, a fruit that I love and eat every week 😊
Impossible not to recognize the kiwi immediately with the classic brown skin and also a bit hairy and with the green pulp inside which encloses the small black seeds.
What are the origins of kiwi? The history of kiwi (Actinidia chinensis) was born in China more than seven hundred years ago, where already at the court of the Great Khan it was appreciated for the delicious taste and the emerald colored pulp.
The rest of the world began to know it only scientifically in the 1800s, when a collector of the Royal British Horticultural Society sent some fruits and seeds to his homeland.
But it is only in 1906 in New Zealand that kiwi cultivation began as an ornamental garden vine, when some missionaries returning home from China brought climbing plants called “Chinese Grape Thorn”.
Later, in the fifties, the scholar of horticulture Wright, after long and repeated experimental studies, succeeded in obtaining the first commercial variety. The New Zealanders, so proud of their new “fruit”, called him in 1995 with the name of the national country symbol bird: the kiwi.
Nowadays, its production concerns countries such as New Zealand, China, Chile and France with the first production country Italy, in particular Lazio, Emilia Romagna, Piedmont and Veneto regions.
The classic color of the kiwis we find on the market is green but there are also varieties that have yellow or red flesh. Luckily in Singapore I find them all 🙂
Actinidia is the kiwi plant, a winter fruit of good taste and rich in vitamin C, particularly appreciated for the prevention of seasonal ailments.
The cultivation of actinidia is quite simple and can be carried out organically both professionally and privately. These climbing plants are of great ornamental value in gardens, often forming shady pergolas suitable for covering verandas and gazebos. Although its flowering is not particularly showy, the leaves on the other hand are very beautiful, large and shiny.
Actinidia is a lianiform species and in nature it climbs around the trunk of other trees because its stem is not able to bear the weight of the rest of the plant. In fact, in cultivation it is supported with properly prepared structures. The kiwi plant is also distinguished by being a dioecious species, in which the male and female flowers are found on different individuals. For this need to plant at least one male specimen every 6-7 females in order to guarantee fertilization and therefore fruit production.
Kiwi is a species to be cultivated in temperate climates with mild winters. At vegetative rest, the actinidia can also withstand winter temperatures up to -15°C, but is very affected by late spring frosts and early autumn frosts that occur just before kiwi harvest and can compromise the fruits. However, this climber also has a certain need of cold, which does not make it possible to cultivate it in warm environments. Actinidia is also sensitive to the wind, which dehydrates the leaves in a way that is sometimes irreversible, and which can break the shoots, so where possible it is advisable to place a hedge or rows of trees as windbreaks.
Actinidia requires fertile soils, rich in organic matter, aerated and not subject to water stagnation. Also the alkaline pH and a high limestone content are negative factors that lead to the phenomenon of ferric chlorosis, recognizable with yellowing of the leaves due to the plant’s difficulty in absorbing iron.
The actinidia plant, although it does not tolerate water stagnation in the soil, still needs a lot of water especially from the flowering period, between May and July. It is necessary to provide for a localized drip or spray irrigation system to cope with moments of drought, bearing in mind that actinidia is sensitive to high levels of chlorine and sodium in irrigation water.
The kiwi plant has no particular enemies in nature and is rarely attacked by parasites. For this reason the fruits that we find on the market are usually not treated with chemicals. Other types of fruit instead, due to the weakness of the plant, are treated with dangerous pesticides.
Kiwis are harvested between October and November and from one plant in full production it is possible to harvest up to 30-50 kg of fruit.
How to choose kiwi? If it is not consumed immediately, it is best to choose a hard fruit because its flesh will become sweeter if it ripens at room temperature.
To quickly ripen the unripe kiwis, simply close them in a plastic bag with two apples and then place them in a warm environment. The apples enclosed in the bag will release a gas called ethylene that is able to accelerate fruit ripening which will take place within two days.
The kiwi is a very versatile fruit because in addition to being used in tasty fruit salads, it is also used to accompany fabulous recipes based on meat and fish. Thanks to its properties, in fact, it is an excellent ingredient also for rich smoothies, centrifuges and of course a fundamental ingredient for tasty jams.
Kiwi is typically consumed fresh, but its precious characteristics make its use very appreciated also in the food and confectionery industry for the preparation of fruit juices, pulp, fruit salads and desserts; in the pharmaceutical industry with the use of pulp, flowers and gems for the preparation of anti-inflammatory and prebiotic products, in the cosmetics industry with the use of seed oil and pulp for the manufacture of shampoos, creams, nourishing and reconstituting lotions and soaps.
Often the kiwi is cut in two and the pulp extracted with a spoon, but you can also peel it. You can cut it straight into slices horizontally, into small pieces ready to eat for the children or use it in a fruit salad, on a fruit tart or with muesli.
To be honest, you can create endless variations with hot or cold kiwis: in appetizers, in main courses or for your desserts, for example: a tantalizing cocktail of kiwi as an aperitif, scampi with a refreshing kiwi sauce as main dishes, followed by a tajine of lamb and kiwi and, finally, an excellent kiwi ice cream, how does this sound?
One thing is certain: whatever the way you decide to eat kiwi, you will take a generous dose of delicious vitamins!
The properties present in large quantities are Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and in minor, iron, phosphorus and provitamin A.
- The high content of Vitamin C is very important for strengthening the immune system
- Ensures active and continuous protection against free radicals
- Influences the metabolism of carbohydrates and fatty acids for energy
- Regulates cardiac function, arterial pressure, improves blood circulation
- The high content of potassium prevents digestive tract disorders and muscle cramps
- Promotes iron absorption
- Fights the fragility of capillaries
- Soluble and insoluble fibers give a sense of satiety, lower cholesterol levels and control the value of glucose in the blood, improve food transit in the intestinal tract
- It is an effective laxative, especially if consumed on an empty stomach in the morning
- The seeds help to solve problems of constipation, water retention and alterations of gastro-intestinal function
According to recent studies published by the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition regular intake of these fruits can improve sleep quality.
But there are categories of people who must refrain from consuming kiwi, those suffering from acute Crohn’s disease, ulcerative recticulitis, or those suffering from colitis or diverticular disease, or from diseases that impose a poor diet of fibers.
Furthermore, kiwi can cause cross allergy to bananas, peanuts, tomatoes and should be avoided in cases of allergy to composite.
For me, kiwi is a fruit that I eat every week and finding the green, yellow or red pulp, I love it as the taste is pretty different.
How about you? Do you like kiwi?
Thank you all for reading.
Join me next time and let’s discover Verona, Italy, known to most of us for the dramatic love story of Shakespearean Romeo and Juliet, but is also much more.
And if you would like to discover more about our food, you may enjoy my previous posts
Bye bye for now 🙂