Kiwi Fruit

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

kiwi fruit (or Chinese gooseberry), Actinidia deliciosa, was first grown commercially on a large scale in New Zealand, but originated in E. Asia, where several other species of Actinidia grow wild and bear small fruits.

Seeds from the Yangtze Valley were taken to New Zealand early in the 20th century, and commercial cultivation began just before the Second World War. The fruits ripen slowly after being picked, and keep well, so there were possibilities for exporting them to Europe. The first shipment reached England in 1953. When nouvelle cuisine blossomed in France and elsewhere, the kiwi fruit quickly assumed a star role as an exotic, decorative ingredient in fruit salads and in many other dishes besides; the thin slices which can be cut from it to serve as a garnish had become a cliché by the 1970s.