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Summary Article: KIWI FRUIT
from Cambridge World History of Food

The kiwifruit (Actinidia chinensis) was a small, hard berry growing wild in China at the beginning of the twentieth century. It was subsequently cultivated in New Zealand, where it was known as the “Chinese gooseberry.” But later, when China became Communist China, the name “kiwifruit” was applied, thus disassociating it from its homeland. In part, this was to facilitate marketing in the West, and in part, it was because of the fruit's supposed resemblance to New Zealand's kiwi, a small, flightless bird with brown, hair like plumage. The new name provoked a remarkable marketing success, and during the 1950s, New Zealand acreage devoted to the fruit increased rapidly to meet the sudden demand. The kiwifruit - about the size of a large egg - is very juicy and usually sweet, although sometimes it has a tart flavor. The thin skin is hairy and brown, and the flesh is a bright green with very small black seeds that surround a creamy white core. In addition to appearing in salads as a fresh fruit, the kiwifruit is also processed into juice, jams, and jellies and is canned and frozen. The fruit is grown on trellises and provides much in the way of vitamins A and C.

Common names and synonyms: Chinese gooseberry, yang tao.

© Cambridge University Press 2000

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