Unlike kiwifruit, a fruit synonymous with New Zealand, a country which grows 90 percent of the planet’s total supplies, kiwi berry, also called hardy kiwi, is still a novelty product especially in the US market. Its popular appeal today owes to its clear green skin, proven nutrition (fiber, vitamin, potassium, magnesium and calcium content, among others) and ease of eating.

Kiwi Berries

Credit: Rillke at Wikimedia Commons

Kiwi berries are a proud fruit of the temperate parts of the globe. It is the mistress among berries of the northern parts of continental Asia, particularly the steppes of China, and the farthest and coldest corners of the Russian mainland, namely Siberia.

What are Kiwi berries?

Kiwi berries, also known as baby kiwis, are small fruits that resemble kiwifruit in appearance and taste, but are smaller in size, typically about the size of a grape.

They are a type of kiwifruit that are native to northern China, Russia, and Korea, and have been grown in other parts of the world, including New Zealand, since the early 20th century.

The United States is also an increasingly popular grower of kiwi berries, mostly on the temperate eastern coast, comprising the New England states such as Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Indeed, the story of how the berry made its way across the big pond is as important today (when the small fruit is belatedly gaining commercial traction) as the discovery of America itself. In 1877, a brig from Japan brought the kiwi berry to the East Coast and thanks to the explorer who first propagated it, it slowly transformed into a specialty fruit in New England. More than a century later, it is growing in other northern states like Washington (Seattle) and Oregon. Today, more people are cultivating it, meaning it is about to become a major commercial export of the US.  All varieties from northern Asia including those from Russia have come to complement the original Japanese cultivar.

How to eat Kiwi berries

Simply rinse it in cold water and pat it dry with a paper towel. You can then eat the entire fruit, including the skin, if you wish. Alternatively, you can cut the fruit in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Kiwi berries make a great snack on their own, or can be added to salads, smoothies, or used as a garnish for cocktails and desserts.

The skin of a kiwi berry is smooth and hairless, and the flesh inside is green, juicy, and sweet with a slightly tart taste.  It is recommended to consume ripened berries because the juicier the flesh, the sweeter the aroma.

The acidic taste is of the bittersweet caliber, meaning that it will leave more of a sugared feel on the taste buds than sourness. Though juicy, the aftertaste is a little dry and a bit clinging to the lips.

Thus, eating kiwi berries requires only washing and eating whole. For those of us with delicate eating habits, one can cut with a knife to display the serrated bright green core with its circular seed arrangement, then eat each half, whole.

Kiwi berries can be eaten as a snack, used in salads, or used as a garnish for drinks and desserts.

Nutritional value of Kiwi berries

Kiwi berries are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin E, and dietary fiber. Here is a quick glance:   

  • Fivefold the content of immunity-giving vitamin C over an orange.
  • A bigger share of skin-brightening vitamin E content  than an avocado.
  • The composition of carbohydrates is over 16%
  • Vitamin B8 and lutein are also also marginally high

Compare: Nutritional value of kiwi fruit

What are the health benefits of Kiwi berries? 

  • They keep muscles supple with fluid courtesy of their high content of potassium, above that of a banana.
  • A combination of beneficial minerals like calcium and manganese in the berry helps keep bones strong.
  • The berries reduce bad cholesterol and lower the chances of developing heart disease due to their hih concentration of fiber with the pectin component that boosts HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol.

Where to buy Kiwi berries in the United States

As mentioned above, the US grows the two fruit cousins, one the kiwifruit in California, and the kiwi berry in the North East. You can make purchases from a variety of grocery outlets across your neighborhood but the main ones range from Trader Joe to Sam’s Club, and Whole Foods to East Massachusetts stores.

These stores stock many varieties christened with such names as  Issai, Geneva, Dumbarton Oaks and Arbor-eat-um. Online stores such as Amazon also offer competitive prices and choices.

Related: Export and Wholesale Price Analysis for Kiwi Fruit Prices in United States

Kiwi berries season in the US

The US kiwi berries season runs from around mid- July to November. The berries typically grow in the colder months of the year in the states of Oregon through Washington in the north east, and Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine on the East Coast. They take three to five years to be fully grown and start producing fruits.

Kiwi berries FAQs 

Can you eat the skin of a kiwi?

Yes, kiwi berry fruits are the smoothest species of the kiwi genera and require no peeling. They are best for those who want a quick pick at fruits whether as dessert with other fruits or whole. Indeed, the skins are the gateway to key nutrients like folate, fiber and vitamin E. So, you better eat it raw and unpeeled!

Are kiwi berries good for you? 

Yes, they are great for everyone keen to ensure good cell development and division. Especially for expectant mothers, the folate in the kiwi berry’s skin keeps the impairment of the neural tube at bay. Fiber, on the other hand, is universally acknowledged as the feed for the biological microbes in the gut that help digest food, lowers chances of cardiac arrests and reduces the development of diabetes.

How many calories are there in a kiwi? 

A kiwi  has a low calorie count. As it weighs 10 to 14 grams per piece, it means that each pop in the mouth gives you 7 calories. Thus, a  100-gram intake of the fruit adds up to only 52 calories in all. The good thing is that the multiple vitamin and mineral components counter-weigh the arguably low calories count.

Where do Kiwis grow? 

Kiwi berries naturally grow in temperate climes in northern Asia such as Central China. The more northern colder parts of the Far East, outside mainland Asia, particularly Japan and the Korean Peninsula are also great matches for those looking for temperate countries from which to source these fruits. In the United States, they grow on the East Coast.

When is Kiwi in season? 

Kiwi berries are ready for harvest starting midsummer (July) through late autumn (late October) in the United States. The season extends to November.