Kiwifruit is a versatile food which can be eaten alone or added into many recipes. It is native to China but now plentiful in other areas around the world including New Zealand, Italy and California.
Though relatively small in size, this fruit is packed with vitamin C, manganese and potassium as well as numerous other beneficial compounds and active health benefits. They can help with many ailments including depression, diabetes and macular degeneration and support cardiovascular health. They also contain actinidin, which is a protease that can be useful as a dietary supplement. Kiwis also contain enzymes that can break down proteins and assist with digestion.
Though great for their nutritive content, they also have many other constructive uses.
Since kiwi enzymes naturally tear down proteins, they make for the perfect fast-acting meat tenderizer. Culinary artists and home cooks have long known this trick and it is as simple as mashing and adding a tablespoon/15 milliliters or so of the fruit into a cup/240 milliliters of marinade, or applied by itself. The actinidin in the fruit works to break down tissues in meats as they bathe in the juice.
More or less of the puree can be added and it can sit for 20 minutes or longer depending on the desired tenderness and the type of food used, however it works quickly. This all natural marinade allows you to forgo pricey, packaged tenderizers with lots of ingredients. For an experiment to compare homemade marinades using other fruits that have the same enzymatic effect, check out the Biotechnology Learning Hub.
Kiwifruit also has several utilitarian non-food applications.
Research has proven that fruit enzymes, like those found in kiwifruit, can act as a natural insecticide. The protease may actually help to decrease insect infestations in the produce. Also, the leaves and branches can be boiled, cooled and the remaining liquid used as a natural topical mange treatment for dogs.
In China, the sturdy vines were used in in rope making and the leaves and bark were incorporated into paper. Further, the bark near the roots can be removed and put in an ash fire. Once cooled it can be rolled and used like a pencil.
The power packed ingredients within also make for a perfect additive to at home skin treatments, though it is recommended to use organic kiwifruit for topical use. The oils from the fruit and seeds naturally revitalize the complexion. The fruit and leaves can be boiled, left to cool and used as an astringent for oily skin. The enzymes and antioxidant properties can be incorporated into homemade facial cleansers, too. SpaFlyer shares an effective all natural recipe for normal to dry skin types.
Its resourcefulness makes kiwifruit a good choice to have around.
Fruit Enzyme Uses. Retrieved on March 8, 2012 from: The New Zealand Biotechnology Learning Hub
Morton, J. 1987. Fruits of Warm Climates: Kiwifruit. p 293–300. Retrieved from: Purdue University
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