Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.
Does Kiwifruit Ripen After Being Picked?
Kiwifruit is not only delicious, it's nutritious, too. It's a great source of vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin essential for immune health—and in fact many people do not realize that kiwis contain even more vitamin C than oranges. You can enjoy this juicy, nutrient-dense fruit year-round, but it's especially popular during the summer months.
You can find kiwifruit at most grocery stores and farmers' markets. The fruits are usually green, but they can come in a variety of colors. Red, gold, and green kiwis are more common than other colors, but you can also find purple and brown ones.
One question you might have is whether kiwis will continue to ripen after they are picked from the vine.
Ripening of Kiwifruit After Harvest
The short answer is yes, kiwifruit ripens after harvest and will do so for up to two weeks after growers pull them from the vine. This is characteristic of all climacteric fruit. These fruits contain higher quantities of ethylene to promote further ripening. Other climacteric fruits include bananas, apples, apricots, avocados, peaches, and blackberries.
Kiwifruit growers often harvest the fruit early, as allowing them to ripen too much while still on the vine increases the risk of the fruit being harmed by pests or disease. Larger kiwis don’t show a clear color change when they reach a ripened state.
This means that growers must use other indicators, such as the color of their seeds and their sugar content, to determine if they’re ready to harvest. They often err on the side of harvesting early, knowing that the fruit will continue to ripen after harvest.
Determining the Ripeness of Kiwifruit at the Grocery Store
If you’re shopping for kiwifruit at the grocery store, you might wonder whether the fruit you pick up is ripe. One way to tell is to hold the fruit in your hand and press on it with your thumb. If it’s ripe, you should feel the flesh give a little.
If you buy a kiwi that isn’t ripe, place it on the kitchen counter for three to four days, without direct sunlight. By the end of four days, it should be ripe and ready to eat. If you want to accelerate ripening, don’t place the fruit in the refrigerator since the cold temperatures will slow ethylene production and they won’t ripen as quickly.
Another strategy for ripening kiwifruit quickly is to place them in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana and close the bag. The ethylene from the other fruits will accelerate the ripening process of the fruit.
Ripened Kiwifruit Is Easier to Enjoy
While it’s safe to eat unripe kiwifruit, you might not want to. An unripe fruit is harder and sourer than its ripened counterpart. As the fruit ripens it becomes softer, sweeter, and more enjoyable. Don’t wait too long to eat the fruit, though. It will lose a significant amount of its vitamin C content if you expose it to heat or light for more than a few days.
Why would you want to wait too long? Kiwifruit is tasty and nutritious and offers a vitamin C boost when you add it to smoothies.
Here are some great ways to enjoy this fruit:
- In a smoothie
- As a simple snack with yogurt or cottage cheese
- On top of salads
- In savory dishes like frittatas and stir-fries
- As an ingredient in baked goods like cakes and muffins
- Dipped in chocolate and frozen for an easy dessert
- Smashed with other fruits like strawberries or peaches and then spread on toast
- Stir-fried with chicken or shrimp for a simple weeknight dinner option
- Paired with both cheese or yogurt (the fruit's tart flavor helps balance out the creamy texture of both foods)
- Sliced with crumbled feta cheese on top for an easy appetizer or snack
- Layered with plain Greek yogurt in a parfait glass for breakfast or dessert
Kiwifruit will continue to ripen after harvest and now you know why. It’s a climacteric fruit that ripens after you pull it from the vine. Whether you grow your own or buy it at the grocery store, enjoy its sweet taste and the nutritional benefits it offers!
- "Timing is everything: Harvesting Kiwiberries in Minnesota." 04 Aug. 2021, https://fruit.umn.edu/Kiwiberry-harvest-timing.
- "Ripening 101: Climacteric vs. Non-Climacteric Fruits." 06 Apr. 2017, https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/student-scoop/ripening-101-climacteric-vs-non-climacteric-fruits/.
- "Climacteric Non-Climacteric Fruit - Quisqualis." http://www.quisqualis.com/Climacteric.html.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.