Kiwi: a spoon fruit with warm and cold colors
With a little creativity you could curiously define the kiwi as a spoon fruit, one of the few you can eat without having to peel it with your hands. Just use a little trick or cut it in half crosswise, take a teaspoon and dig along the circumference. If it is ripe to the right point, it will come away from the peel without any difficulty and it will be a real delight to taste it, thanks to its bitter sweet taste. One of its aesthetic peculiarities is the presence of a light down on the brown skin, while inside it is green. These two colors, the first heat and the second cold, express very well the characteristics of the cultivation and harvesting of this fruit. The plant needs a humid climate, characterized by not too hot summers and cold winters, but without frosts. Italy is one of the first world producers together with China, New Zealand, Chile and Greece; the fact that these states belong to two different hemispheres and have an inverse seasonality, guarantees a production and a marketing for the whole year.
Maturation and climate: criteria for the kiwi harvest period
In Italy the best time to harvest kiwis begins at the end of October, in some areas it can last until December, depending on the climate of the area where it is grown, but the important thing is that it is harvested before the winter frosts begin. In fact, the climate is one of the determining factors which, together with the degree of maturation of the fruit itself, indicate the opportune moment to begin to reap the benefits. The kiwi does not give outward signs of the degree of maturation achieved as its color does not change over time, the only way to identify the right time is to make the analysis of the sugar degree through the refractometer, a tool that indicates in percentage or in Brix degrees the presence of sugars in the pulp. In order for the quality of the fruit and its shelf life to be optimal for trade, the refractometric index must not be less than 7%. Once harvested, the kiwi must be kept in sterilized cells inside the clean bins, ie the rectangular wooden or plastic containers used for collection, transport and storage. The optimum temperature for storage in the cells can vary from -0.5 to -0.8 ° C.
Collect kiwis: traditional and technological method.
The kiwi is a climbing plant for which it needs well-structured supports to hold onto to grow, for this reason rows of vines or pergolas are built and above it can be placed some nets, used in the summer periods in the case in which the sun is too strong. To reap the rewards, there are two solutions: the traditional method is one in which the staff collects the fruits, positions them in the bins which are then manually loaded on a trolley pulled by a tractor that passes between the rows , and finally the bins are unloaded again by hand. The most innovative method instead is called Transporter which is a vehicle designed to facilitate and speed up the loading, unloading and transport phases. Once the kiwi bins have been filled, this vehicle loads them through a mechanical arm, transports them to their destination and unloads them by tilting the tip-up surface and backing away so that the boxes slide to the ground. The Transporter therefore allows the reduction of the workforce by around 50% as only one person is able to perform the tasks of more operators in the various stages of kiwi harvesting.
Kiwi harvest: The kiwi from harvest to table
Immediately after being harvested, the kiwi, like the rest of the fruit and vegetables, passes to the calibration phase before arriving in the markets and supermarkets. This procedure allows to maintain a certain quality standard of the products, that is the shape, the weight, the freshness, the external coloring. This phase avoids placing products on the market that do not meet the standards and divides them into different price ranges. The kiwis of first choice are those that arrive on our tables in the form of real fruit, instead those that can present aesthetic flaws, but not necessarily inferior in quality, like the fact of having an irregular shape, are used for example for the production of yoghurts. Not many people know that kiwi is the fruit with the highest concentration of vitamin C, has diuretic properties, it is also rich in minerals, vitamins and fibers that help intestinal functions. A curiosity of the kiwi plant is that it can be used as an ornamental plant in the creation of the pergolas inside the gardens, characterized by heart-shaped leaves. The flowers are white and bloom between June and August.