The kiwi fruit, native to China, was originally called “Chinese gooseberry” by westerners. Introduced into New Zealand in 1906, the variety was much improved, and for many years that country monopolized commercial production of the fruit. It wasn’t until 1953 that it was renamed “kiwi” after a flightless bird (also known as the apteryx) native to New Zealand, which it resembles by virtue of its fuzzy brown skin.
The kiwi is the fruit of a long, flexible, climbing creeper resembling a vine; the plant is generally pruned when it reaches a length of 7 to 10 feet (about 2 to 3 m). Today about 10 varieties of kiwi fruit are cultivated worldwide, including in the United States, France, Italy, Spain, Israel, Chile, Australia, South Africa and Russia. In North America, the Hayward variety is the most common.
The kiwi fruit is an egg-shaped berry some 3 inches (7.62 cm) long and weighing 2 to 4 ounces (56 to 113 g). The emerald-green flesh is sweet and juicy, and slightly acid. Small edible black seeds form a decorative circle around the yellowish core of the fruit. Although the thin and downy brownish skin is edible, most people prefer to peel it.
Kiwi is very good fresh, eaten as is or added to yogurt, ice cream or sorbets. In a fruit salad, kiwi has to be added at the last minute to prevent it from softening the other fruits. The kiwi fruit also blends well with meat, poultry and fish. When pressing kiwis to make juice, avoid grinding the seeds, as they tend to impart a bitter taste to the juice.
The kiwi is an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium. Kiwis supply twice as much vitamin C as do oranges and lemons! The fruit is diuretic, laxative and used to combat scurvy. The kiwi contains actinic and bromic acids, enzymes that are activated on contact with air and that give it certain properties, the most notable being that of a food tenderizer. Unripe kiwis that are peeled and left out will even tenderize themselves. This trait becomes undesirable in a fruit salad… Like pineapple, kiwis stop gelatin from solidifying and cause milk to turn (although it does not affect yogurt or ice cream).
In a large salad bowl, combine the shrimp, mango, baby spinach lemon juice and oil. Add kiwis just before serving. Season.