Thursday, 9 October 2008
Hardy Kiwi Fruit
At the 100-Mile Store in Creemore, I found hardy kiwi fruits. Suddenly the old name of Chinese gooseberries for kiwi fruits from before the New Zealanders got hold of them makes a lot more sense. They could also be taken as a kind of strange grape, but if you bite one in half, you will see the familiar bright green rayed flesh and ring of tiny black seeds. Luckily, these little guys are furless with a thin tender skin, as they would be just too tiny to peel. No preparation is required beyond a quick rinse, and perhaps a little rub at the blossom end to remove any lingering stamens.
You should also taste a much sweeter and richer, slightly floral flavour than you will get from the large furry kiwis that come from half-way around the world. It's not that the more familiar large kiwi can't taste great - I had some wonderful ones at a California farmers market once - but as usual fruit picked green (ahem) and hard for shipping just never reaches its full potential. The smaller ones are inherently sweeter as well, although the degree will very according to the variety in question.
Some people make kiwi jam, but I'd like them in a fruit salad with pears and plums - very pretty! - or they could go into smoothies. But there's nothing wrong with just snarfing them down, which was the fate of this batch. Children love them.
Not too many people are growing these around here yet, but I predict that they will become very popular in the next few years. I'm thinking of growing them myself. The plants are a large and attractive perennial vine. They are also dioecious, which means that there are male and female plants. One male plant should be surrounded by a harem of eight fruit-bearing female plants. They require slightly acidic soil, plenty of water, and regular pruning. They should be hardy in my zone 5 garden, but will likely require some protectionn from spring and fall frosts.