Hardy Kiwi Harvest

5 years ago I planted 4 hardy kiwi plants: 1 male and three Anna females.  The promises of fuzzless kiwi fruit the size of large grapes growing in Will Holler, Bloomington, IN, seemed like a dream.  This year’s harvest has been that and some.

Kiwi fruit

So far I have harvested approximately 16-17lbs, and that’s just scratching the surface!  The fruit is amazing, sweet, and slightly less acidic than their tropical relatives.  I ate easily more than a pint yesterday before my tongue started to ache (fuzzy kiwis do that to me after just a bite or two).  Fruit averages 1 in and eclipses a quarter easily, with the largest fruit nearing the size of my thumb.

With all of this fruit pouring in, my next step is to discover what preservation methods will work best.  Kiwi Jams are all over the internet, but I’ve got about 1 gallon whirring away in the dehydrator as I type and freezing for later juicing seems promising as well.  I plan on updating this post later when I can confirm how these experiments go.

The key to the hardy kiwi’s low-acidic/high sugar content is actually the fact that they grow in temperate climates.  Last week the mercury fell into the 30s, and we had 3-4 nights of heavy frost/light freezes.  The cold temperatures catalyze the kiwi pulp into gooey goodness, almost like a jam wrapped in a thin skin.

wait for fruit to shrivel and soften so that it squishes slightly when you pinch it--that is a ripe, sweet, heavenly kiwi fruit

wait for fruit to shrivel and soften so that it squishes slightly when you pinch it–that is a ripe, sweet, heavenly kiwi fruit

still firm under your pinch--check on these kiwis in few days

still firm under your pinch–check on these kiwis in few days

The only question I have is why aren’t more people growing these?  Backyard growers, could plant a male/female pair on an arbor or patio trellis just like a grape, granted the kiwis are much more vigorous and can grow up to 25ft/year.  After seeing the yields, growing these for market is a no-brainer.  What other fruit is available this time of year besides apples and pears?  Kiwi has 5 times the vitamin C of oranges, as well as healthy doses of vitamin K, A, E, B6, potassium, antioxidants, and copper (food facts provided by Dr. Mercola’s website)–all of which fortify our bodies for the upcoming winter cold.  And not to state the obvious, but these hardy kiwis can be grown locally across most of the US, reducing the need for importing the fuzzies from across the globe.

 

Growth and Development of the Hardy Kiwi Vines in Will Holler:

Year 1: Plant Cold Hardy Kiwis over Chicken Moat

Years 2 & 3: Watch them grow with some occasional pruning and training

Year 4: Increased need to pruning–kiwi vines trying to climb trees.  First fruit amounting to around 1 quart

Year 5: Pruned the vines heavily just before bud-break in early Spring.  This I believe greatly increased fruit set.  First fruit harvested around October 18th, with the bulk ripening in the last two weeks of October after first frost & freeze.

Year 6: PLANT MORE KIWIS and experiment with different trellising methods to increase production while using less space

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Hardy Kiwi Harvest

  1. Claire

    Glad to see you’re updating this! Just stopped in the site to see how you all are doing. Good on ya with the kiwis, that was very informative writing. Hopefully you guys can get people on to this plant.

    Be well, miss you all,
    Claire

  2. salemwillard@gmail.com Post author

    UPDATE: Results on preserving Hardy Kiwis

    1) Freezing: Great for smoothies, or if you plan to jam them later. Once thawed the fruit becomes mushy and not ideal for fresh eating.
    2) Dehydrating: Tough, chewy, but still pretty flavorful. Very easy to over-dehydrate and ruin texture. The tougher ones could make an excellent addition to roasted fowl!
    3) Refrigeration: Kiwis keep for several weeks in the fridge, but be careful not to pack too many in one container like I did. I packed 8 quarts into a container, but the bottom ones got crushed and began to break down/ferment. I recommend those plastic clam containers that are used for berries (makes sense).
    4) Jam: going to try with some of my many frozen gallons of kiwis!

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