When I was young, the kiwi was the first real exotic fruit that I ever tried.
Its tart and juicy flavor was unique and delicious. It is one of the few fruits I distinctly remember trying as a kid and I credit it with my lifelong love of sweet and sour tasting fruits.
Kiwi can be used in so many ways in the kitchen and its sweet and sour flavor works well in baking, cooking, and raw preparations.
Using this fruit in your kitchen is an affordable and delicious way to bring a little tropical flair to your favorite recipes.
Since kiwi fruits grow in a subtropical climate, and they have a tart flavor, you might be wondering whether these fruits are actually citrus fruits. This is a great question and the answer is an interesting one.
So, is kiwi a citrus fruit? While kiwis share some similar qualities with citrus fruits, such as growing region and vitamin C content, they are actually classified as a non-citrus exotic fruit.
Read on to discover more about how to keep kiwi fresh, how to freeze them, and the best ways to use them in your kitchen to delight your taste buds.
Why Do People Think Kiwi Is A Citrus Fruit?
One of the reasons folks may think that kiwi are citrus fruits is because they tend to grow in the same subtropical climate as citrus fruits like lemons, grapefruits, and oranges.
They are also rich in vitamin C, which is also abundant in those same citrus fruits.
However, kiwis don’t have as much citric acid, the nutrient that gives citrus fruits their sharp and tart taste. The more citric acid, the more tart the fruit.
So naturally, lemons and limes will have more citric acid than oranges, which will have more than kiwi fruits.
Kiwis also have a very different peel in comparison to citrus fruits. While citrus peels are generally smooth, shiny, and packed with beautiful smelling oils, kiwi peels are rough, brownish, and covered in small hairs.
The rinds on citrus as also not edible unless they are cooked, candied, or preserved in some way.
Though it may not be for everyone, I know many people who enjoy eating the peel of a kiwi fruit, my brother and sister included. Just make sure you give it a good wash before you eat it.
As you can see, there are plenty of differences between kiwis and citrus fruits. So when classifying kiwi, they are considered a non-citrus subtropical or exotic fruit similar to pomegranates and figs.
Are Kiwis Berries?
Yes, they are. In fact, kiwis are also classified as berries and are sometimes referred to as Chinese gooseberries or kiwifruits.
Berries are any fleshy fruit that has lots of seeds inside, such as kiwis, watermelons, tomatoes, lemons, and grapes.
Technically, watermelons belong to a specific family of berries called pepos. Other fruits that belong to this berry family include cucumbers and gourds.
Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges are also classified as berries in the family of hesperidium.
Kiwis belong to the family Actinidia deliciosa, which grows on a woody vine and produces large individual berries that we know as the kiwifruit.
How To Ripen Kiwi Fruit
If you buy a few kiwis at the grocery store and want them to ripen quicker, then there is a little trick you can use.
- Place your unripened kiwis in a brown paper bag.
- Fold over the top of the bag so it is loosely closed.
- Place out of direct sunlight and away from direct heat, such as from a stovetop.
- Keep your kiwi in the bag for about 2 to 3 days or until soft and ripe.
- Enjoy your ripe and juicy kiwis.
The science behind this trick includes something called ethylene gas. As the fruit ripens it emits this gas.
By placing the fruit in a bag, it keeps the ethylene gas close to the fruit and circulating in the bag which speeds up the ripening process.
You can use this trick to ripen bananas, avocados, apples, tomatoes, mangoes, and other fruits.
How To Keep Kiwi Fresh
To keep your kiwi fruit fresh for as long as possible, there are a couple things to consider. If your kiwi isn’t yet ripened, then you can store it on the counter at room temperature until ripe.
Once your kiwi is ripe, then you will want to move it to the fridge to keep it fresh.
I like to wash and dry my kiwi fruits as soon as I get them home from the store. If I know I’m not going to be using them for a little while then I will keep them in a small bowl in the fridge. Otherwise, I’ll keep them in a bowl on the counter.
Can You Freeze Kiwi Fruit?
If you receive an abundance of kiwi fruit you might be wondering whether you can store the excess for later use. Luckily, kiwi freezes really well and there are a few methods you can use depending on how you intend to use it once thawed.
You can freeze kiwi for about 10-12 months. After much more time than that the taste may start to go off, or they can become freezer burnt and unappetizing.
How To Freeze Kiwi Fruit Slices
- Thoroughly wash your kiwi fruit. Depending on your preference, you can peel it or leave the peel on.
- Slice the kiwi into slices of your desired thickness. Keeping them about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick should work well.
- Find a plate or a baking sheet that will fit into your freezer. Line it with parchment paper.
- Lay the slices of kiwi out into a single layer with some space between each slice to allow the air to circulate between them.
- Place the kiwi slices into the freezer for 12-24 hours or until fully frozen through.
- Transfer the slices to an airtight freezer bag. Press the air out of the bag and then seal.
- Once your kiwi slices are packed up, take a piece of masking tape and write the date and contents on it. Stick the tape to the bag and place it in the freezer.
How To Freeze Crushed Kiwi
- Start by washing and drying your kiwi fruit. Remove the peel if you prefer.
- Place your kiwis in a food processor or blender and pulse them until you reach the desired consistency.
- Place several freezer bags that fit about 1-2 cups each on the counter.
- Measure out 1-2 cups per bag and gently squeeze the excess air from the bag before sealing. It’s best to portion the crushed kiwi into the amounts that you’re likely to use in a recipe to make it easy to thaw and use. If you store them all together you will have to thaw the whole amount and use it right away.
- Write the date and contents on the bag or on a piece of masking tape so that you know what you froze and when. This step will save you from finding bags of fruit in the freezer months later with no idea what they are or whether they are still good to use.
- Place the portioned bags of crushed kiwi in the freezer and use within 10-12 months.
How To Freeze Chopped Kiwi
- Find a plate or baking sheet that fits inside your freezer and then line it with parchment paper.
- Wash and scrub your kiwi fruit. If you prefer your kiwi without a peel remove it now.
- Chop your kiwi into pieces. You can choose your own adventure here depending on how you’re going to use them. If you’re planning on using them in smoothies, they can stay larger, for baking you may want smaller pieces.
- Spread the chopped kiwi into a single layer on your baking sheet or plate and then place it into the freezer.
- Keep the pieces in the freezer for 12-24 hours or until the pieces are completely frozen through. It may take a little more or less time depending on how cold your freezer is.
- Portion the chopped pieces into freezer bags. I like to measure out 1 and 2 cup portions since these are generally the amounts used in recipes and the easiest to thaw for future use.
- Once portioned, you will want to label your bag with the date and contents so you know when you froze them and how long they are good for. You can write on the bag or on a piece of masking tape.
- Store the bags of kiwi in the freezer until you need them. Make sure to use them within 10-12 months for optimal freshness and flavor.
Delicious Uses For Kiwi In Recipes
Kiwi is such a versatile fruit that can be used in cooked or raw preparations in the kitchen.
Thanks to its tart flavor it is delicious in baked goods, while its juice can also be used to help tenderize meat. If you’re looking for a perfect fruit to make a summery tart or cheesecake, the kiwi fruit should be the top of your list.
Great Uses For Kiwi In Baking Recipes
One of the best ways to use frozen kiwi is in baking recipes since when fruit thaws it can get a little mushy.
While the real limit to what you can do with kiwi fruit is only in your imagination, the following ideas can give you a great place to start.
- Try making a delicious kiwi loaf with lime or other citrus fruits.
- Kiwis make a deliciously tart filling for bars with a crispy, buttery crust.
- Kiwi pairs great with cinnamon to make a moist and delicious cake. You can also pair them with lemons, apples, berries, or your other favorite fruit for a cake that is sure to satisfy you.
- Try them in a delicious muffin recipe combined with strawberries or raspberries.
- Fresh kiwis are perfect when sliced and laid on top of a custard in a fruit tart. Try combining them with other berries, pomegranate seeds, or dragon fruit for a creation as beautiful as it is delicious.
- If you want to get really inventive, try a spin on the classic lemon meringue pie. You can use kiwi fruit to make the base and top it with fluffy meringue for a real treat.
- You can also use kiwi as a filling in a regular pie crust. Again, feel free to get creative and combine it with your favorite fruits for an extra special pie. The tartness of the kiwi tastes wonderful with sweeter fruits like apples and strawberries.
- Try making a fruit pizza with a cookie crust, whipped cream, and kiwi fruit on top.
Other Ways To Cook With Kiwi Fruit
While baking may be one of the easiest and tastiest ways to use kiwi in the kitchen, there are lots of other things you can do with this fruit to tease your taste buds with tartness.
- Chop and freeze your kiwi as above and use it in smoothies. You can also freeze kiwi together with berries and bananas for a delicious smoothie blend.
- Cut small pieces and add them to your chicken salad. The tart sweetness complements the savory taste of the chicken.
- Add frozen chunks of kiwi to summer spritzers. You can use wine and seltzer or your favorite juice for a non-alcoholic version.
- Puree kiwi with juice and use to make natural popsicles. You can combine it with other fruits or layer different fruit purees for a beautiful treat on a hot day.
- Make a fruit salsa with apples, grapes, strawberries, and orange juice.
- Add slices of kiwi to your favorite salad.
- Turn it into a jam! Is there anything more delicious than toast with jam and butter? You can make a wonderful jam out of kiwi either on its own or combined with strawberries or your other favorite fruit.
- Slice it up and add it to oatmeal or rice pudding. The tart-sweet flavor will cut through the richness of the oatmeal or pudding for a perfect treat.
- You can squeeze the juice and use it to tenderize tough cuts of meat before cooking. The citric acid will help tenderize the protein and add a lovely subtle flavor.
- Chop kiwi and squeeze lime juice over top then use it as a garnish for your favorite tacos.
As you have learned, though kiwis grow in a subtropical climate and contain citric acid and vitamin C like citrus fruits, they are actually classified as non-citrus exotic fruit.
They are easy to store and last for 10-12 months in the freezer so you can stock up when they’re on sale.
Kiwis have virtually limitless uses in the kitchen in everything from smoothies to cakes to salsas and pies. Next time you’re at the grocery store pick up some kiwis and let your creativity sore.
What’s your favorite way to use kiwi in the kitchen? Let us know in the comments!
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