Spring Produce Guide: Kiwifruit and Passionfruit

by Anastassia Skarlinski

The weather keeps tiptoeing in and out of winter. Some days are cold and cloudy, some bright, sunny, and warm. In a bid to encourage the sun to come out, or at least to brighten up your cloudy day, let’s try some kiwifruit or passionfruit. 

Kiwifruit is a vining fruit native to China. They are odd-looking fruit, small brown and fuzzy on the outside, bright green with black seeds on the inside. There are other types of kiwifruit too; golden, red, purple, even a mini one, sometimes called kiwi berry. The golden kiwifruit, which is sweeter and less hairy, and the mini kiwi berries are seen more often in US grocery stores. The everyday green variety is pretty common in stores these days. They make for an easy treat. While you can eat the skin, most people prefer them peeled. The easiest way to peel a kiwifruit is to cut off a little bit of each end and then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Kiwifruit ripen after being cultivated; you should eat them once they have a slight give when pressed.

Passionfruit are also a vining plant native to Brazil. While they are known as passionfruit in English, they are also known as maracuja in Portuguese, parcha in Spanish, and liliko’i in Hawaiian. The skin of passionfruit starts out green but ripen to purple, orange, or yellow. They are filled with seeds surrounded by bright-colored flesh. One of the strangest things about passionfruit is that you should eat them when the skin has become wrinkled. To eat the fruit, you just cut it in half and scoop out the seeds and flesh. Each fruit only has a few Tablespoons of fruit inside. The pre-pulped fruit can often be found in the frozen fruit section of the grocery store. 

Kiwifruits are also a good source of Vitamin E and K, folate, copper, and magnesium. Both fruits are a great source of Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and polyphenols. Polyphenols are micronutrients that are found naturally in plants. More than 8,000 kinds of polyphenols have been identified and are being researched for several health benefits. Some examples of polyphenols are resveratrol, quercetin, and capsaicinoids. Polyphenols are all powerful antioxidants and may be important for heart health and reducing cancer risks. 

Kiwifruit and passionfruit make excellent additions to a yogurt parfait or a smoothie. Passionfruit is often used as a flavoring in juices. It is typically better to sieve out the seeds first for better flavor and texture. In many places, passionfruit are served over vanilla ice cream or whipped into cream (this dish is sometimes called fool). Kiwifruit contain an enzyme, actinidin, that is very useful as a meat tenderizer, a puree of kiwifruit in your favorite meat marinade will help to break down the connective tissues and protein in the meat. You can also take advantage of kiwifruit’s bright sweet-tart flavor in a fresh salsa. 

Note: As any New Zealander will tell you, the word “kiwi” is either a demonym referring to a New Zealander (Kiwis) or the common name of the fascinating nocturnal flightless bird (the kiwi) of the genus Apteryx and the family Apterygidae. The fruit, however, should be referred to as a “kiwifruit.” Most Kiwis (the people) eat the fuzzy outside of their kiwifruit! It is packed with fiber. If you can’t handle that, consider purchasing fuzz-free kiwifruit.

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