Saturday, July 10, 2010

of Khans and Kiwis

The elegant petite kiwi fruit often lends it's green starburst slices to the top of catered fruit salads, but it's a nutritious and sweet addition to your meals, snacks or desserts at home, as well. The fuzzy kiwi fruit, not to be confused with the kiwi bird, originated in China around 700 years ago. A popular fruit of the Khan dynasty, it may have been served to the mighty ruler Genghis Khan. From there, it was introduced to New Zealand in 1906, and was renamed "Kiwi" when California growers began planting them in the early 1960's.

The Kiwi is a very intriguing little fruit. In the summer, each kiwi vine imbibes about 41 gallons of water a day. It's a naturally pest-resistant fruit, and contains an enzyme called Actinidin, so you can use it as a meat tenderizer.

Kiwi fruit is high in vitamin C, a good source of vitamin E, fiber, and potassium. It's fat free, virtually sodium free, and has no cholesterol.

Home chef's tips:

Kiwi's are picked and sent to market before they are fully ripe. When they are plump and fragrant, and slightly dent when you squeeze them, they're ripe. The fruit will be green inside, and sweet but slightly tart. Kiwi's are thin-skinned little buggers, and once ripe, do not like being stored with other fruit. The other fruit emits ethylene gas (weird, huh?) and causes kiwis to over-ripen. Once they get mushy, they become unpalatable, and should be thrown out. But a ripe kiwi is a joy to eat, and a stylish garnish.

Tenderizing meat with a kiwi:

Cut a kiwi in three or four slices and rub them over your steak or other meat. Let it stand for 20 minutes or more. If it's warm in your kitchen, let it stand, lightly covered, in the refrigerator. The enzyme begins to break down the proteins in the meat, just enough to tenderize it.


Kiwifruit Frozen Yogurt; Kiwi Fruit, Orange, and Avocado Salad, and more:

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