Harvesting Vincent Kiwi

Harvesting Vincent Kiwi

We have been eagerly waiting since late May for the flowers on the Vincent Kiwi to turn into the yummy egg sized fruit.  It didn’t help that i was frustrated with the  two vines this spring… just as the Vincent flowers were fading, the male vine finally began to open a few blooms. There were only about 50 female flowers remaining, out of 400 or so it had initially.  Therefore, I took matters into my own hands.

Male Kiwi flowers in bloom around memorial day

I spent the morning up on ladder with a tiny paint brush, tickling a male flower (pictured above) and then a female flower, repeating until I dabbed each one.  I am sure the bees and bugs did the job as well, but I wasn’t leaving it to chance with so few female flowers left.  About a month later, it was clear that it did set some fruits on those 4 dozen or so flowers.  The vines are 7+ years old this winter, and this is our second year harvesting kiwis.  We harvested about 50 fruits this week and are waiting for some them to soften, while others wait for later in the fridge.

Kiwi fruits growing under the canopy during the summer

What I have learned about when to pick “Vincent” Fuzzy Kiwi fruits:

  • Wait as long as possible before harvesting, at least until the vine starts to drop a couple of leaves.   We didn’t have a hot summer this year, so I decided to not start picking the fruit a month until a month later than last year.  About 1/4 the leaves have fallen off at this point.
  • Be careful squeezing or testing the fruits because they bruise easily.  Firmness is not a factor in determining if it is time to harvest.
  • Pick one full sized fruit and cut it open.  If the seeds are black, it is ready to harvest.  If the seeds aren’t yet black, leave the rest of the fruit on the vines, and then try it again in a few weeks.  When there are enough sugars, the seeds will turn black.
  • Leave the firm fruit on the counter or in a bag with an apple to slightly soften and ripen.  Most of ours took 5 to 10 days to ripen.  Store unripened fruit in the fridge.
  • Around here the fruit can also ripen on the vine, but we also had a few drop on the ground and bruise when we weren’t paying attention.
  • Update 2/28/2012: Since we didn’t have an extremely cold winter and not much frost, we were able to leave a few fruits on the vine this year, up until late January and earlier February and they were still fine.

Note: We harvested in late October in 2010, and a few of the fruits had not developed enough sugars yet to sweeten.  Some kiwis were totally delicious, but some remained firm and tart even after weeks on the counter.  I learned to let them stay on the vine longer.


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