Kiwifruit doesn't get a lot of respect in this country. I understand that the Chinese name for the fruit (kiwis, at least the kind we are most likely to see in our stores, are native to China) is "hairy goat ball," and that right there might be part of the reason. It is true that an unpeeled kiwi is not the most attractive fruit in the world, but once you peel it, revealing its soft, bright green and absolutely delicious flesh, you suddenly have a totally new perspective.
Despite being native to China, most of the world's kiwi production comes from Italy, New Zealand and Chile. New Zealand is where Americans encountered the fruit, then called the Chinese gooseberry, but when in 1959 it began to be imported to the United States, somebody thought it would go over much better if we renamed it, and with its association with New Zealand, "kiwi" seemed like a good idea. You have to admit, it does have more appeal than "hairy goat ball."
California, and especially the area around where I live, is the epicenter of U.S. kiwifruit production, such as it is. In fact, I understand that we account for 98% of the U.S. grown kiwifruit, but that's less than 2% of the world's total crop. Around here, in the grocery stores you can buy the fruits for about $2 a pound. That will get you somewhere around four to eight kiwis, depending on their size. The better alternative is to hit one of the roadside stands that sell bags of them for $3, or probably about a $1 a pound. Better yet, you can just wait and have one of your neighbors give you a big bag of them for nothing, which is what happened last week.
I saw this as a prime opportunity to make kiwifruit jam.
I've never seen kiwifruit jam in stores, and I've read that the reason is that no one has managed to develop an economical way to process these hairy, odd shaped little fruits. That's a real shame, because it really makes a fabulous jam.
Here's the recipe:
Ingredients (Yields 4 half pints Units US)
- 3 cups chopped peeled kiwi (about 8 or so kiwis, depending on size)
- 1 package dry pectin (one of the low sugar pectins)
- 1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
- 4 cups sugar
- Combine kiwi, pectin and pineapple juice in a large saucepan.
- Bring to a boil stirring constantly.
- Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.
- Return to a rolling boil.
- Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat-skim off foam.
- Ladle into clean hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.
- Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath at altitudes up to 1000 feet.
It makes a truly pretty, absolutely delicious jam. It has a delicate, fresh taste a bit reminiscent of a strawberry, with maybe hints of bananas or even apple. The fruit itself holds up better in the jam making process than a strawberry, so the jam has much more of a fresh fruit quality. Real good. Real easy.
Incidentally, California kiwifruit is a fall crop (late October, early November), so is a wintertime fresh fruit in the grocery stores.
Kiwi jam and peanut butter on French bread