Before I ever lived in California, I visited here with my family when I was just a sophomore in high school in a little town in Maryland. We came out to spend some time with my aunt, uncle, and cousins who lived here, and then we all took an ambitious road trip together to a few of the major natural attractions of the great west, including Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. The visit was great and the road trip was awesome. The combo began my love affair with California, which led to my love affair with UCLA (where I enrolled after high school in order to get back to California), which led to my love affair with my amazing wife Denise, whom I met at UCLA before we even took our first freshman class together. But even before any of these major loves developed, that first California trip introduced me to another love that, while not as key to my life as the others, I’ve still enjoyed ever since: kiwi!
On the first day of our trip, my aunt made us a delicious lunch that started off with a fresh fruit salad that, among the obvious California bounty, also contained some exotic-looking, green-fleshed circles that I had never seen before. They had a lovely sweet-tart taste and appealing texture, and I was hooked. What I didn’t know then was what a healthy treat they are. Kiwis are one of the best sources of antioxidant vitamins available, packing a potent punch of Vitamin C and healthy helpings of Vitamins A and E. All three help protect our DNA against the threats posed by our encounters with pollution and toxins. In addition, Vitamin C helps fortify the collagen in our skin, Vitamin E helps with nerve function, and Vitamin A helps prevent the formation of cataracts. Kiwi is also a surprising source of omega-3 oils, with a single fruit yielding 32 milligrams!
If you’ve never had kiwi or need a refresher on how to pick good ones, look for the fuzzy brown fruit that looks like what we have pictured here. To check for ripeness, squeeze the fruit gently, and select those that yield a bit, but don’t feel soft or mushy. Reject those that have visible nicks or cracks. When you’ve brought home the ones you want, wash them, then peel them with a paring knife, cutting just deep enough to get below the thin brown skin. When peeled, the edible part of the fruit will reveal itself as uniformly green on the outside, with a white core in the center, surrounded by tiny seeds. You can eat everything but the fuzzy brown wrapper.
You can enjoy kiwi all by themselves, or slice or cube them up in fruit salads, or toss them into a yogurt with the berries of your choice. Obviously, you’ll come up with other fine uses on your own. But if you’re having kiwi for the first time, be careful: You might just fall in love.