A fruit containing a brilliant green flesh with tiny, edible black seeds. It has a unique tart-sweet taste. Also known as the “Chinese gooseberry.”
The kiwifruit, often shortened to kiwi in many parts of the world, is the edible berry of a woody vine in the genus Actinidia.
The most common cultivar group of kiwifruit (‘Hayward’) is oval, about the size of a large hen’s egg (5–8 centimetres (2.0–3.1 inches) in length and 4.5–5.5 centimetres (1.8–2.2 in) in diameter). It has a fibrous, dull greenish-brown skin and bright green or golden flesh with rows of tiny, black, edible seeds. The fruit has a soft texture and a sweet but unique flavor, and today is a commercial crop in several countries, such as Italy, New Zealand, Chile, Greece and France.
Raw kiwifruit is rich in the protein-dissolving enzyme actinidain (in the same family of thiol proteases as papain), which is commercially useful as a meat tenderizer. Actinidain also makes raw kiwifruit unsuitable for use in desserts containing milk or any other dairy products which are not going to be served within hours, because the enzyme soon begins to digest milk proteins. This applies to gelatin-based desserts as well, as the actinidain will dissolve the collagen proteins in gelatin very quickly, either liquifying the dessert, or preventing it from solidifying.
To overcome this effect, the United States Department of Agriculture suggests cooking the fruit for a few minutes before adding it to gelatin. Sliced kiwifruit has long been regularly used as a garnish atop whipped cream on the common New Zealand and Australian dessert, the pavlova. It can also be used in a variety of other savoury and sweet dishes.
Kiwi fruit have passed well beyond their use in desserts, now being added to jams, jellies, preserves, and fresh in salads and other recipes. The fruit has, in the past decade or so, gained a humorous reputation following a period where chefs used it in a very wide variety of dishes. For a period, the kiwi seemed to appear in everything, raising a comical note about the fruit’s omnipresent use.