We have a slight obsession with all things mini, especially when it comes to produce (have you seen the cucamelon?!). Though we’ve recently been enjoying mini avocados, there’s another tiny fruit that has a hold of our attention: the bite-sized kiwi berry.
Let’s be clear: this isn’t a new fruit, just new to us. In fact, kiwi berries, also known as “hardy kiwis,” are in season September-November and February-March, so you won’t find us snacking on any until the fall. But as soon as we saw photos of the fruit circling the Internet, we knew we had to figure out if they were for real.
According to Melissa’s Produce, the largest distributor of specialty produce in the U.S., kiwi berries are cousins to kiwi fruit. Unlike the brown fuzzy kiwis we’re used to, however, kiwi berries have smooth, edible skin (read: no fuzz), are slightly sweeter in taste, and are about the size of a grape. Their shelf life is relatively short, so by the time they make their way to you, plan on consuming them the day they arrive or within three days. Store them in the refrigerator.
The berries are native to northern Asia, and were first introduced to the U.S. in the 1800s, according to Weaver’s Orchard, a Pennsylvania Orchard that has pick-your-own kiwi berries available from mid-September to mid-October. They grow on a woody vine, and can be planted in hardiness zones 4–8. They are picked when fully ripe, and are packed with twice as much Vitamin C as an orange, as well as plenty of antioxidants, fiber, and essential minerals.
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Though the fruit isn’t currently widely available for purchase (but you can order them online when they're in season), University of New Hampshire assistant professor Iago Hale is working to change that. By screening nearly 200 varieties and investigating how they hold up to storage and handling, Hale is hoping to develop the fruit into a high-value crop for New England farmers. If you do get your hands on them, try eating them plain as a snack, tossing them into smoothies, or pickling them and enjoying all year round. In the meantime, get your kiwi fix with our Lemongrass-Ginger Fruit Salad.