NZ grown fruits like kiwi fruit, tamarillo, and feijoa once were introduced to New Zealand from China and South America.
The kiwifruit originates from China and was introduced to New Zealand in 1906. The New Zealand fruit has a history of a series of names. For New Zealand the important ones were Chinese gooseberry, a name given by New Zealander for its taste resemblance to that of a gooseberry.
China whose national fruit it is gave more attention to the nutritional value than identifying a fruit.
Commercial planting and harvesting began around 1940. Ten years later when America developed interest to import the fruit the name changed, for political reasons from Chinese gooseberry to melonettes. Alteration to this name took place for the existing high import tariffs on melons. To imply the country of import a short significant name was chosen "kiwifruit" which became the fruits industry name "kiwi". The preference of New Zealanders is kiwi fruit since kiwi birds are their national flightless bird.
The outer appearance is brown and fuzzy, roughly about the size and shape of an egg. Ideal conditions for growing are frost free warmer conditions. Commercial vines grow on sturdy trellis helping to carry their crop to a height of about 9m (30ft).
Two characteristics are important for growing these plants. First, there are male and female veins. One male plant is needed to pollinate 3 to 8 female ones. Second, the first harvest can take place after one year of planting but with aging of the vines the production of the crops reduces. Therefore they need periodic replacement.
There are about fifty other species of kiwi fruit, all of Asian origin though not all are commercially viable. The seeds of one species with more yellowish flesh was brought from India to New Zealand and cultivated to the popular golden kiwi fruit. With golden skin and less furry than their green colleagues it lives up to its name. Their taste is less acid with a sweeter tropical flavour.
We got pretty much hooked on it when we arrived. Undeterred by the higher price we ate a lot of them. Some years the price between green kiwifruits and golden kiwis evened out.
A stay in 'Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty' lets you get to know a small town that calls itself the "Kiwifruit capital of the world". A giant kiwi sculpture leads the way of a long distance with. It marks an ideal place to learn all about its history and present achievements in cultivation and marketing.
Today the fruit is valued for nutrition as well as for ingredients gained of it to create kiwi beauty care products, and liqueur.
The Tamarillo is a red or yellow fruit, which resembles a tomato. The fruit is related to the potato, capsicum, pepper and eggplant. It is a native fruit of Central and South America. Tamarillos were first introduced to New Zealand in the early 1800’s.
In the kitchen the fruit is used for hearty and sweet dishes including, pie and pastries, drinks,
a whole lot more. Other than spooning the fruit out just fresh from the tree, one of our family's special treats is a vegetarian spinach, mushroom, tamarillo lasagna.
Tamarillos grow in a warm climate. They dislike frosty weather, but usually grow through winter and spring. The fruit contains yellow flesh with black crunchy seeds.
The feijoa originates from Brazil and, was introduced to New Zealand around 1920. The smooth skin of the fruit is green. The size and shape depends on the climate. The feijoa tree is sometimes used for hedges and can grow up to 5m. The feijoa has a sweet inside with sweet jelly in the middle. It grows in warm subtropical temperatures.
The tree in our garden is every second year loaded with fruit. Much of the fruit goes during this season in daily smoothies. We also experimented with sponge cake, rice cake and cheese cake. It is also the time when many New Zealanders use their surplus fruits to make fresh feijoa lemonade, fruit leathers, jam and chutney, while some experiment with wine, liqueur and fruit schnapps. Some of these ideas are commercially picked up that product are internationally available.