Kiwis are a delicious and nutrient-dense fruit that can be enjoyed year-round. With their fuzzy brown exterior and vibrant green interior speckled with tiny black seeds, these oval-shaped fruits are fun to eat and contain lots of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, and potassium. However, kiwis can be tricky to pick out at peak ripeness. An unripe Kiwi will be too complex and sour, while an overripe Kiwi will be mushy and bland. Knowing what signs to look for when determining ripeness ensures you choose kiwis with the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to tell if kiwi is ripe, storing them properly, and troubleshooting any ripening issues.
Judging Ripeness by Looking at the Kiwi
To determine whether a kiwi is ripe, you must rely primarily on its appearance. Here are the physical traits to look for:
The skin color is one of the most telling signs of a ripe kiwi. An unripe kiwi will typically be a tricky, deep green shade. As it ripens, the green will lighten and develop brown hues. A ripe kiwi will be more golden-brown than green.
Occasionally, you may come across yellow-fleshed kiwi varieties instead of the common green-fleshed ones. For these, a ripe yellow kiwi will be more yellow than green on the outside.
Gently press the outside of the Kiwi with your thumb to gauge its firmness. An unripe kiwi will be extremely hard, while a ripe one will have a slight softness and give. A kiwi that is mushy or very soft is overripe.
Very unripe kiwis may have pretty smooth skin. As they ripen, the signature “fuzz” will develop. Ripe kiwis will be covered in a downy, brown fuzz that is soft. If the fuzz rubs off easily, that is another sign it’s ready to eat.
As Kiwis ripen, they tend to get longer and plump in shape rather than staying oval. This shape change signals the flesh is ripe and tender.
A ripe kiwi will have a stem that detaches easily from the fruit with a gentle pull. The Kiwi is likely too unripe to eat if the stem is too complex to wiggle free.
Testing Ripeness by Smell
The aroma of a kiwi can provide more information on its ripeness. Sniff the Kiwi near the stem end.
- No scent – An unripe kiwi will not have much of an aroma.
- Grassiness – A light, vegetal grassiness indicates the Kiwi is ripening but not quite there yet.
- Sweetness – A ripe kiwi will smell sugary and floral, reminiscent of honey or melon. This sweet scent is a good indicator that it’s ready to eat!
Squeezing a very ripe kiwi may release more aromatic compounds, making the fruit’s ripeness more apparent. Any rotting odor means the Kiwi is overripe and should be avoided.
Determining Ripeness by Taste
You can get final confirmation on a kiwi’s ripeness by cutting it open and tasting a small slice.
- Hard, sour – An unripe kiwi will be very difficult to chew and taste, with lots of bitterness.
- Soft, sweet-tart – When ripe, the Kiwi is much more delicate in texture and delivers the perfect sweet-tart flavor balance that makes it delicious.
Tasting a slice is the best way to determine if the Kiwi is at peak ripeness, but do so sparingly to avoid damaging too much of the flesh.
Other Factors that Affect Ripening
Beyond examining the external and internal indicators, some other factors come into play when ripening kiwis. These considerations can provide insight into when your Kiwi will be ready to enjoy.
Time of Year
Kiwis are in season during late fall and early winter. The fruits available towards the end of this peak harvest time have typically been allowed to ripen longer on the vine. That means winter kiwis tend to be riper and faster to ripen after picking than early-season varieties.
Where and how the Kiwi was grown affects its ripeness, too. Kiwis grown in warmer climates will ripen more readily than those from cooler regions. Fruits picked when wet tend to mature faster than kiwis harvested when dry.
Post-harvest handling refers to how the Kiwi was treated and stored after being picked from the vine in transit to the store. Better post-harvest care slows down ripening. So, a kiwi that was refrigerated immediately after picking will take longer to mature than one left out at room temperature.
Storing Kiwi Based on Ripeness Level
Once you’ve brought your kiwis home, proper storage is critical for enjoying perfectly ripe fruits. Here are some storage guidelines based on the Kiwi’s ripeness stage:
Place hard, unripe kiwis on the counter at room temperature. The warmth will ripen, allowing them to develop their flavor and soften fully within a few days.
You can also speed up ripening by sealing unripe kiwis in a paper bag. The bag traps the fruit’s ethylene gases, acting like a ripening chamber. Just be sure to check them daily and remove any that become ripe.
Do not refrigerate unripe kiwis; the cold inhibits ripening and enzymatic activity.
Enjoy ripe kiwis immediately, or store them in the refrigerator if you want to delay eating by a couple days. The cold will slow further ripening. Place ripe kiwis loose in the produce drawer, rather than sealed in a plastic bag.
Soft or squishy kiwis should be discarded, as the flesh will be mushy and off-flavor. An overripe kiwi means it was left out too long past peak ripeness.
Troubleshooting Ripening Problems
Sometimes, kiwis can be tricky to ripen correctly. Here is some advice for troubleshooting:
Kiwi Never Softens
It is likely a dud if your Kiwi remains obstinately rigid no matter how long it sits out. Certain individual fruits never manage to ripen due to growing or handling issues fully. Eat it sooner rather than later while it’s still fresh and firm.
Kiwi Softens Unevenly
Ideally, the flesh of a ripe kiwi will be uniformly soft and tender. If some parts seem more complicated than others, it means the fruit ripened unevenly. This can happen with poor post-harvest storage that exposes some areas to cold. Enjoy the edible ripe portions and discard any substantial ones.
Kiwi Gets Moldy
If a ripening kiwi starts to develop mold, moisture gets trapped inside the fuzzy skin and leads to spoilage. To prevent this, be sure to store ripening kiwis in a dry spot with good airflow, not sealed in plastic. Discard moldy kiwis immediately.
Kiwi Tastes Bland
The lack of flavor indicates an overripe kiwi where the sugars have started to break down. Enjoy kiwis at peak ripeness for the best taste, and refrigerate any extras you can’t eat immediately. Check refrigerated kiwis daily and discard any with off flavors.
1. Can you ripen a kiwi after refrigerating it?
Placing a cold, unripe kiwi on the counter at room temperature will still allow it to ripen. Refrigeration just slows the process down rather than stopping it indefinitely.
2. How long does it take Kiwi to ripen?
At room temperature, Kiwis typically ripen fully for 2-4 days. Placing them in a paper bag can shorten this by a day or two. Refrigerated Kiwis may take 1-2 weeks to ripen fully.
3. Why is my Kiwi hard in the middle when ripe?
This happens when the outer part of the fruit ripens faster than the inner flesh, especially with improper storage. Let the Kiwi sit out an extra day or two to allow the inside to catch up. Discard any parts that remain hard.
4. Can you ripen Kiwi in the fridge?
Technically, yes, but it will happen at a much slower pace. Leave kiwis out on the counter instead of refrigerating them for faster ripening.
5. Is a ripe kiwi soft or firm?
When gently pressed, a perfectly ripe kiwi will yield slightly but still feel plump. Avoid very soft and squishy kiwis, as they are overripe, but also steer clear of hard fruits that don’t give at all. The ideal ripe Kiwi is slightly soft but still retains some firmness when squeezed.
Determining ripeness in kiwis comes down to checking their external fuzziness, smelling their sweetness, and tasting their soft tartness. Ripe kiwis will appear plump and golden brown, emit a floral fragrance, and taste juicy and sweet-tart. Unripe fruits remain smooth, complex, and sour, while overripe ones get mushy and bland. Complement your healthy drinks for diabetic patients with perfect kiwis every time; by following our ripening, storage, and usage guidelines, you’ll easily pick delicious ripe fruits with just a squeeze and sniff at the store, ready to be devoured.