What ARE kiwi berries? That was what I was asking myself as I wandered in M&S in London’s Knightsbridge the other day, because, there they were sitting on the shelf bold as brass next to the ‘ordinary’ fruit like apples and stuff.
Of course, the apples weren’t calling ‘buy me Helen, you’ve not seen me before’ – and the little green Kiwi berries were.
What Are Kiwi Berries?
Getting home a quick google told me that kiwi berries are actually the hot new thing in fruit.
Not only are they in M&S but Waitrose have also just started selling them for a limited 5 week period – and, surprisingly, they are grown in the UK. Unsurprisingly with that name, they are actually relatives of the kiwi fruit – but teeny tiny baby versions without the furry skin.
This bit is music to my ears – I like kiwi fruit but touching the skin gives me the creeps, and eating them with a spoon makes for sticky fingers and I don’t like sticky fingers, so these little tiny versions that you just pop in your mouth are perfect. They taste just like their big brother but with less faffing around.
How Do You Eat Kiwi Berries?
Easy – just give them a wash under the tap and eat them whole.
Wait, can you eat the skin of kiwi berry you’re asking? Yes, yes you can – and not only do you eat the skin of a kiwi berry – the skin contains 15 times more antioxidants than the pulp of the fruit so being able to eat them whole gives you an extra health boost.
In my rapid kiwi berry learning curve, I have also discovered that they’re ripe when they start to turn soft and, to keep them from going mushy, you should keep them in a fridge but take them out just before you’re going to eat them.
It’s also important to keep them away from bananas – they are very sensitive to the ethylene gas that bananas give off and will go soft quickly if stored near them.
Oh, and before you eat them all, do take the time to cut one in half – it really does look just like a tiny kiwi.
Kiwi Berry Nutrition
M&S don’t have nutritional information on their pack, but other sources say that a 150g punnet of Kiwi Berries would contain about 115 calories – the berries are also a good source of vitamin C. And in fact, have a little bit more weight for weight than their bigger brother.
They also have 19 other nutrients including vitamin E, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and iron – and weight for weight have been named one of world’s top 20 superfoods.
They are also one of the richest sources of the antioxidant lutein which is good for eye health.
One really interesting benefit of Kiwi Berries is they are really good for gut health. All plant foods are, but kiwi berries have been shown specifically to positively influence the balance of bacteria in the gut when you eat them.
It’s also been said that they might help with the digestion of meat in the system helping break it down faster – this is a good thing as you don’t want meat hanging around your system for longer than necessary.
Can You Cook with Kiwi Berries?
Now I’ve been popping them like sweets since I bought them, but it seems you can do a lot more with them than that.
Over at nzkiwiberry.com, they’ve got an entire booklet of ideas which includes adding them to omelettes for breakfast (?), making them into a salsa with chopped tomatoes and coriander (not a bad idea) and my own personal favourite blending them with Bacardi. lemon, ice and a little syrup to make a Daiquiri.
I’ve also seen recipes for Kiwi Berry Margarita and a very tasty sounding prawn and kiwi berry salad over at kiwiberry.com.
If you really want to push the boat out, Sara over at Belly Rumbles has a recipe for kiwi berry doughnuts!
A Couple of Downsides
Like any less common fruit, kiwi berries cost more than traditional kiwi fruit but that’s not the only thing you might want to watch out for.
One difference you might notice when you are eating them is that they have a slightly tangier sensation in your mouth than whole Kiwi fruit. This is because they are higher in a substance called oxalic acid.
Oxalic acid is also related to the formation of kidney stones – very painful build-ups of calcium in the kidneys – for this reason, teams of fruit growers are trying to create types of kiwi berries with lower levels of oxalic acid in them, but in the meantime, they suggest if you have had kidney stones in the past, you make sure you drink water when eating kiwi berries.
Some people can be allergic to an ingredient in kiwi fruits called actinidin. Kiwi berries also contain this so, if you find that normal kiwi, or other fruits including pineapple and papaya, make your mouth itch after eating them, you might want to avoid them.
They’re also not that easy to get – kiwi berries have a short growing cycle and so you’re going to need to keep your eyes out for them. In the UK, they tend to arrive at the end of Northern hemisphere Summer. In the Southern hemisphere, you’ll see them from early March to mid-April.
Where to Buy Kiwi Berries
Since I wrote this post, way back when, it seems it’s got a lot easier to get kiwi berries in the UK.
Originally, I found in them in M&S and so it might be worth checking with Ocado as to whether they have them in.
I have also found them on Tesco online.
Fruit box delivery company Abel and Cole also sell them.
If you’re shopping in the US, you can get kiwi berries delivered direct from a farm in Pennsylvania here.
I have seen people saying they’ve seen them in Walmart so keep an eye out around growing season.
Out of season, Melissa’s produce import Kiwi Berries from New Zealand so you can also buy them in February to March.
If you’re reading this in Australia, most of the major supermarkets have them for sale in season. Here’s a link to the Woolworth’s page so you can check and see if there are any in stock.
So, now you know – that’s what a kiwi berry is, and what you do with it – hurry, you’ve only got a few weeks of the growing season left!.
If you like trying new things, you might also want to check out our What The Heck Is category which covers things like Ugli Fruit, Nooch, Wheatberries and a few other unusual healthy items.