Grocery Ninja: Kiwiberries

The Grocery Ninja leaves no aisle unexplored, no jar unopened, no produce untasted. Creep along with her below, and read all her mission reports here.


Many people love autumn—the gorgeous fall colors, plentiful apples, hot mulled cider, zany-shaped squash, leftover Halloween candy, etc. I'm no fall grinch, but I completely overdosed on apples as a poor grad student (seriously, I'm talking ten apples a day instead of real food), and am now wary of them. I'm sure my love affair with apples will revive one day, but meanwhile, I'm staying away from them until there's absolutely nothing left to eat in the fruit department.

But in fall, what else besides apples can I add to my breakfast muesli—that would not make the food mile hall of shame? Fortunately, living in a college town with a serious horticultural research scene has its perks. (Even if it does seem the cows outnumber us humans.) These emerald beauties you see are a marvel of nature—harvested in fall, yet tasting of sunshine and blue skies. Since I discovered them at the farm stand down the road (also known as the Cornell Orchard Store), I've been sneaking into the kitchen and popping them by the handful at every opportunity (they are very pop-able).

The marketing people call them "kiwiberries," with each berry about the size of a quail's egg. The horticultural people call them "hardy kiwis," and point out that they are generally grown in areas where winter temperatures would kill regular kiwifruit (kiwiberries can tolerate temperatures as cold as -25°F). With a fuzzless skin that doesn't need peeling, and a big, bright, zesty, sweetness, I just call them "delicious."

Kiwiberries and kiwifruit both belong to the genus Actinidia and grow on vines. The kiwiberry has a little stem (like a grape) and the cutest little tuft of hair that I pinch off before popping. I find it sweeter than a kiwifruit, but with the same soft, yielding, texture. The kiwiberry is also considered a nutritional powerhouse, harboring five times more vitamin C than a medium sized orange, and more antioxidants than you can shake a stick at.

I'm not sure how long these beauties will be on the shelves (I hear they're available at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods), so if you're like me and want one last taste of summer—go seek them out before the snow comes (and there's nothing in your fruit bowl but apples and oranges).