Kiwi can be a cool, refreshing snack — or not, the Israel Fruit Board said this week. Unripe kiwis of two of the most popular varieties that are now on supermarket shelves should be avoided, the Board said, because they will “never” ripen.
The time to buy kiwi grown in Israel is no earlier than October, according to Arana Sandel, director of quality and standards for the Fruit Board. “The earliest that the Bruno strain of kiwi, one of the two affected, reaches the market is September 20, while the other affected strain, the Heyward, will not be edible until at least October 25,” she said. “The fruit in the markets now will never ripen.”
Kiwi growers, anxious to get their products to market before Rosh Hashanah — specifically for families who are seeking a “new fruit” for the second night of Yom Tov as they recite the brachah of Shehechiyanu — jumped the gun and harvested the fruit before it was quite ready. According to Sandel, the final weeks of ripening on the tree are the key to tasty kiwis, and cutting off that ripening is fatal to the fruit’s quality.
“We have the best kiwi in the world, almost organic — it is not sprayed with pesticides, and marketed from the end of October through April,” Sandel said, adding that it was important to the Board to keep up Israel’s reputation for producing excellent fruit. Israelis consume about 5,000 tons of locally grown kiwi annually. Each year an additional 500 tons of kiwi are imported, mostly from New Zealand. When in season, they are expected to cost about NIS 15 a kilo this year, officials said.