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What is a Kiwi Fruit?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 16, 2024
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A kiwi fruit, also called a "kiwi," "kiwifruit," or "Chinese gooseberry," is a sweet, citrusy, brownish-green fruit approximately the size of a chicken's egg. The fruit's skin is covered with a soft fuzz, which can be removed with a knife or peeler to make it easier to eat. Kiwi fruit contains an enzyme that acts as a meat tenderizer, and many cooks add kiwi to meat dishes specifically for its tenderizing quality.

Appearance and Texture

The flesh of a kiwifruit can be golden or deep green, depending on the variety. Scattered throughout a kiwi are edible black seeds similar to those found in poppies. When sliced lengthwise, a kiwi looks quite a bit like a miniature melon. Sliced horizontally, the round kiwi sections become popular garnishes for fruit platters and other decorative presentations.

Taste and Uses

It can be difficult to describe the taste of a kiwi. The sweetness of the flesh and the slight crunch of the seeds are similar to a strawberry in many respects. Its texture also suggests a hint of banana, with a slight firmness to the flesh, although it has a citrus bite similar to pineapple.

Kiwi is often eaten raw, on its own or with other fruits. A whole kiwi can be eaten like an apple; the skin is edible, although many people prefer to peel it off due to its fuzzy texture. It can be sliced and added to cold salads, or scooped out the peel with a spoon. Hot deserts, like pies and tarts, can incorporate the fruit, as can frozen yogurt, sherbet, and puddings. If used with dairy products, however, it should be eaten right away or it will break down the proteins in the milk. Raw kiwifruit, like pineapple, should not be added to gelatin desserts as it breaks down the structure of such dishes.

The juice is often combined with strawberry juice in fruit cocktail drinks. It can be combined with lemons or limes, sugar, and sparkling water to make a refreshing summer drink. It's often combined with rum in alcoholic beverages.

Buying and Storing the Fruit

When choosing kiwi, shoppers should look for firm fruit with no obvious wrinkles, bruises, or soft spots. The fruit is ready to eat when it looks plump, has a pleasant smell, and feels slightly soft. They can be kept at room temperature for several days to fully ripen. Kiwi will keep in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for up to a week.

Nutritional Information

Very high in vitamin C — one fruit provides nearly 1.5 times a person's daily recommended intake — kiwi fruit is also high in potassium, vitamin E, folate, and antioxidents. It also has more than 2 grams of fiber, without the skin; eating the skin will add more. There are 61 calories per 100 grams, but a whole one usually weighs a little less than this, and has 45 - 55 calories, depending on the size.


Kiwi grow on long vines, often requiring a lot of space to spread out. They are often supported by trellises, since vines can grow to 24 feet (7.3 meters) long or more. The leathery leaves are large, oval, and deep green. Large cream or white flowers bloom for several weeks in the late spring. These plants are dioecious, meaning that they produce either male or female flowers; both types are needed for the plant to produce fruit.

These plants need a long growing season — about eight months without frost — and do not react well to sudden cold temperatures. Most varieties do need a period of dormancy in the winter, however, with at least a month or so of temperatures near or slightly above freezing. They prefer sunny locations, and need a lot of water to thrive, although the soil should be well drained.


The kiwi is named after a flightless bird from New Zealand, although the fruit is originally from China. The previous name, "Chinese gooseberry," is also misleading since it is not a true member of the gooseberry family. The fruit is actually part of the Actinidia genus, and there are at least 400 varieties. They are a form of berry that grows on woody vines, much like grapes.

During the early 1900s, a director of a New Zealand school for Chinese women visited China and became fascinated with the fruit known at the time as Chinese gooseberries. She brought back several fruit-bearing vines for her gardener to cultivate. Eventually, the fruit became so popular that commercial growers became interested. In order to establish an association with New Zealand, marketers changed the name to "Kiwifruit." Grocers in the US often shorten it to "kiwi," although the name kiwifruit remains common in many countries.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick , Writer
As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By anon938005 — On Mar 07, 2014

What if someone eats dried kiwi fruit?

By Belted — On Dec 17, 2012

I pack a kiwi in my lunch almost every single day. It is one of my favorite fruits and a nice alternative to oranges or apples or some of the more common fruits.

By Oceana — On Dec 16, 2012

Kiwi fruit are like bananas with seed. The article described them perfectly. They are mushy yet enjoyable, and the seeds are small, so they don't take away from the experience of eating one.

I've never heard of anyone eating the skin, though. I figured it was poisonous or something because of how it looks and feels.

By kylee07drg — On Dec 15, 2012

One of the most delicious fruit desserts I've ever tried involved kiwi fruit and strawberries. It was a dessert pizza.

The crust was sugar cookie dough, and the “cheese” was powdered sugar mixed with cream cheese. Chopped kiwi and strawberry slices went on top of this and clung to it.

The crust was the only part that needed baking. I added everything else afterward.

The only bad thing about this pizza was that it had to be eaten quickly. Kiwi fruit spoil quickly, even when stored in the refrigerator, if you have already sliced them open. The pieces turn dark and start to taste bad.

By giddion — On Dec 15, 2012

@Perdido – I actually know what you are talking about when you refer to kiwi fruit as having a metallic taste. It is subtle, and it doesn't ruin the flavor of the fruit, but it is definitely noticeable.

I compare it to the way that a penny smells. It's a coppery taste that feels weird on my tongue, but the fruit is so delicious that I don't mind.

By Perdido — On Dec 14, 2012

I've had kiwi strawberry punch before, and it was delicious. The kiwi fruit have a slightly metallic taste that goes well with the tartness of the strawberries, but if you use ripe ones, the sweetness of both is enough to balance everything out.

I've also had kiwi strawberry gum. It didn't quite capture the full flavor of both types of fruit the way that the punch did, though. I suppose when you are just taking extracts from fruit, rather than juicing them whole, you lose something in translation.

By anon290474 — On Sep 09, 2012

I've never heard of them being called "kiwi". I'm 56 years old and grew up in California, Tennessee, and Florida and have lived in or visited other states. It's always been "kiwifruit" so shortening the name may be something new.

By anon269143 — On May 16, 2012

I love to eat kiwis! I blend them up in my vitamix with the skin on.

I have never heard them called "kiwifruit". It's just kiwi here in the USA!

By anon93135 — On Jul 02, 2010

iranian kiwifruit is more delicious.

By anon49455 — On Oct 20, 2009

why is kiwi green?

By anon43932 — On Sep 03, 2009

What are the advantages of kiwi fruit to our bodies? I am scared to take the gooseberry judging from the above anonymous comments. --anonymous

By anon36539 — On Jul 13, 2009

To rbarshaw -Allergy to kiwifruit, as allergy to any other foods, can develop quite suddenly. I don't think the skin was the issue. You should avoid eating kiwifruits altogether, and be careful of cross contamination. Your anaphylactic response indicates an extremely high sensitivity to this fruit. Please discuss with your allergist/doctor.

By anon23310 — On Dec 21, 2008

I quite agree with anon up there, I've never heard the term used before, but it's really quite offensive, and extremely weird at the same time. It sounds like you're talking about eating the kiwi (the bird that is).

By ppjrr — On Oct 30, 2008

We are studying Fruits in my Botany class. The question came up as to what type of fruit the kiwi is. Botanically a berry usually develops from a compound ovary and often contains more than 1 seed. A true berry is a fruit with a thin, papery skin and a relatively soft pericarp.

A pepo has a relatively thick rind. How is the kiwi classified? Or is it something even different?


By rbarshaw — On Jul 06, 2008

Just over a year ago I ate a Kiwifruit, I just ate the flesh out of the skin and had an acute anaphylactic shock. I ended up in the hospital getting several bags of fluid put into me intravenously, along with several drugs to relieve the allergic reaction. According to the doctor I was within a few min. of losing my life. Has any one heard of this problem with others? What might have caused it? I have eaten them in the past, but they were peeled first.

By anon13904 — On Jun 06, 2008

every time i eat kiwifruit it makes my lips cracked and numbed and it will last at week before it gone. it looks like i have an allergy eating this kind of fruit.

By malena — On Dec 04, 2007

Anon2056: The kiwifruit was originally known as the Chinese gooseberry and then the melonette before it settled on the current name of kiwifruit. Actually the article, I think, covers this. The gooseberry, as it is known today, is something very different than a kiwi. It looks like something more like a large grape than a kiwifruit!

By travelbymind — On Jul 16, 2007

How does one tell the difference between male and female Kiwi plants?

By anon2122 — On Jun 29, 2007

I, like many New Zealanders, find it offensive to call the fruit "kiwi", it's "kiwifruit"! Don't be so lazy!!

By anon2056 — On Jun 26, 2007

Kiwi fruit has it original name which is not used by people now-a-days. Is this gooseberry or something different?

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick


As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
Learn more
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