Another winter fruit: Kiwi
Like oranges and grapefruits, kiwis are at their peak from November until May — the time when most of our local fresh fruits are out of season.
Botanically, kiwis are one of the largest berries and have been called the Chinese gooseberry. Like other berries, the fuzzy-skinned, green, tart fruits are full of tiny black seeds.
Native to northern and eastern parts of China, kiwi spread south to New Zealand in the early 1900s. It became so popular that it was given its name — kiwi — after the nation’s flightless, plump kiwi bird. Today, 40 varieties of kiwifruit are grown commercially in Italy, South Africa and Chile.
New Zealand kiwis were brought to California in the 1940s, and today, 98% of the kiwi grown in the United States come from southern California. The main California variety is the Hayward, known for its large size and higher sugar content. Most of the fruit is harvested in October and November. They store well and are available through the winter and spring.
With more vitamin C than an orange, as much potassium as a banana, and the fiber of half a cup of bran all packed into just 70 calories, kiwis are a nutritional powerhouse. They also contain beta carotene, and micronutrients that reduce cancer risk, help prevent heart attacks and nourish your eyes.
Kiwis make a delicious snack, like a banana, orange or apple. And the peel is edible, so no need to peel if you don’t mind the fuzzy texture.
There are also many ways to use them. Slice them into your breakfast oatmeal. Use in fruit tarts. Top a cheesecake. Use in muffins or sweetbreads. Combine with other ingredients — like banana and kale — into a smoothie. Or a yogurt, strawberry and kiwi smoothie. Blend with seedless (or seeded) cucumbers and honey or maple syrup for a refreshing beverage. Use in place of tomatoes in salsa, with corn, cucumbers and chiles, or add to a fruit salsa. Fry them with onions and serve with steak or pork chops. Add to a grilled cheese sandwich or on top of peanut butter toast.
Kiwis really shine in salads, whether added to tossed fresh greens, in a grain salad, pasta, or even potato salad. You can even blend them into a salad dressing or vinaigrette.
Kiwis contain the enzyme protease that is also found in pineapple and papaya, as well as the enzyme actinidin. These enzymes act as meat tenderizers, breaking down connective tissues and protein. Don’t leave the meat in the marinade too long, or it will get mushy.
Here are a couple recipes to get you started.
Kiwi Marinade for Meat
2 green-variety kiwifruit, peeled
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Peel kiwi (or cut in half and scoop out from its skin with a spoon). Puree in a blender with remaining ingredients. Or mash by hand and stir in remaining ingredients with a fork.
Place in a plastic bag with your steak, pork, or chicken.
Marinade 15 minutes.
Pat meat dry before grilling or roasting.
Green and Orange Salad
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup
3 to 4 cups mesclun mix or other salad greens
1 sweet red onion peeled and sliced
1 small carrot, sliced
1 small cucumber, sliced
About 4 small yellow sweet bell peppers (or 1 large) seeds removed, sliced
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, optional
For the dressing: Peel and chop half a kiwi and half an avocado. Combine in blender (or use an immersion blender in the salad bowl) with the olive oil, salt, garlic, pepper, and honey.
For the salad: Combine salad greens, onion, carrot, cucumber, remaining kiwis (no need to peel) and bell peppers in salad bowl; toss with the dressing and garnish with feta cheese, if using.
Serves 2 – 3.
Pork and Veggie Skillet
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 4 ounces mushrooms
1 clove garlic
1 or 2 sweet potatoes
1/2 to 1 cup broth
About 2 cups cooked pork or chicken
1 or 2 kiwi fruit, sliced or chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon flour
Heat oil in skillet. Peel and dice the onion; add; sprinkle with salt and cook on low 5 minutes or longer. Slice mushrooms; peel and mince garlic; add to the onions.
Cut up sweet potatoes, and add, along with the broth. Cook about 5 minutes or until tender. Add the chopped meat and kiwis; taste to adjust seasonings. Stir together sour cream, flour and some of the liquid to make a sauce; stir back into the skillet to thicken.
Serves 2 – 3. Serve over pasta or grain, or with potatoes.
Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Words Are My World.