I never cared much for kiwi fruits. I remember thinking, when I first tasted one, that they were more a treat for the eye than for the palate. Other than their exotic looks, I didn’t really understand the fuss about them. Some people compare the taste of kiwi to a blend of strawberry and banana, which are both lovely fruits, but not favorites of mine. Perhaps kiwis just weren’t my thing. Or maybe the problem was that the kiwis I’d eaten had been picked underripe, so that they could be shipped cross-country without damage.
A couple of years ago, I worked on the design of an affordable housing development to be built adjacent to a community garden. The gardeners hoped to teach the children living in the development about growing their own food, so we planned the landscaping for the project to include lots of edible plants: fruiting plants, nut trees and herbs. The landscape architect suggested planting kiwi vines along a south-facing wall. He told me that he’d planted hardy kiwis in his yard; they grew quickly, he said, and produced loads of smooth-skinned little kiwi fruits. He loved them, and thought they’d be popular with the kids. We planted three kiwi vines – two female, one male – on the site. I haven’t been back to the site recently, so I don’t know how well they’ve grown, or whether the female plants are bearing fruit.
I’d forgotten about those hardy kiwis until I read Viv‘s recent post about the hardy kiwi man at the local farmers markets. When Viv recommends a fruit or vegetable that I haven’t tasted, I usually try to find it next time I’m at the market. So last Saturday, I stopped by the U-District Farmers Market, and found Dennis from Green Water Farm selling the last of this season’s crop. When I popped one of the olive-sized green fruits into my mouth, I finally understood what all the fuss over kiwis is about. Within the smooth, thin, slightly tart skin, the flesh was sweet and juicy. Strawberry and banana? No, better than that.
I bought several pints of the little kiwis, thinking that I might try making preserves with some of them. But no, I’m going to end up happily eating all of them out of hand, and then I’ll be waiting for hardy kiwi season to come around next year. And I’ll be contemplating the empty south-facing wall of our garage. Might a couple of hardy kiwi vines be happy there?