Growing the best Kiwano on earth. It’s no accident

vanessa and alan hutchings

How do you go about growing the best Kiwano on earth? Well, the first step is to get passionate about them. But not in an everyday way kind of passionate. I mean off the charts. Now we’re talking.

Hello, and welcome to our first-ever blog! I’m Vanessa, co-owner of Enzed Exotics, New Zealand Kiwano growers. Our goal is to bring consumers the best Kiwano on earth - something we’ve been working away at for over 30 years now. We agree, it’s quite the statement. But it’s a mission we’re 100% committed to. It’s a statement that will always keep us on our toes - and we believe we’ve got the goods to deliver on.

It’s fair to say I’m kind of obsessed with these “little beauties”. I’ve started this blog to share my passion for Kiwano with the world. I’m eager to meet and learn from other fresh produce lovers who are as fanatical about quality, naturally grown produce as I am. I’d like to share our experiences and knowledge – the highs, the (hopefully not too many!) lows, and quirky bits of life in the produce game - and have conversations about industry issues and trends.

One thing is for sure, there’s no shortage of things to talk about! Provenance, technology, food security, food influencers, what we buy and why we buy it… our industry is rapidly evolving. Change can be daunting, but the opportunities are also hugely exciting.

So, let's get to the first "confession" from this Kiwano lover.

The Enzed Exotics story starts back in 1985, when my husband Alan planted his first Kiwano vine. After 30 plus years of perfecting the process, he’s become an expert in growing this totally unique fruit.

Now here's that confession - I’m actually a reformed suit. When I met Alan I quickly knew I wanted to be part of farming life. I loved working with the land. Out went high heels and dresses and in came gumboots and old jeans. I spent the first four years getting to know the Kiwano growing process inside out. As demand for our fruit grew, some days I started putting on nicer clothes to manage the sales and marketing side of our business. At the same time, I headed back to business school to grow my skills to manage a fast-growing company. Today my life is a mix of getting out in the field, managing the business side of things, and travelling internationally to meet our buyers and wholesalers.

I’m not a big fan of job titles (and they don’t mean much in an all-hands-on-deck business like ours) so while I might be Managing Director, this loosely translates to ‘crazy passionate about our team, our customers and our fruit’.

So what’s this fruit I’m so crazy about? Kiwano are one of the gems of the fruit world, but they're not super well known - yet! Originally from Africa, they are also commonly known as a horned melon or jelly melon. Packed with vitamins and minerals, the Kiwano’s unique taste is often described as a refreshing mix of banana, passionfruit and lime. Inside its spiky golden-skin is a green seeded pulp with a texture like a passionfruit. It can be used as an ingredient in drinks and cocktails, scooped over ice cream or yogurt, added to salsas, salads, sauces or used to add freshness to savoury dishes. One of my favourite ways to eat it is with chilli on fresh oysters (our recipes or Instagram feed are good places to see how versatile this fruit is).

We want to provide consumers with the best Kiwano in the world, and take a number of steps to ensure the quality and purity of our fruit is second to none. We are Global GAP accredited, and take good agricultural practices very seriously. Right from seedling to harvest, we choose to only use farming practices that are in harmony with mother nature. Each Kiwano is hand-picked and handled with loving care from paddock to our wholesale and retail customers.

We grow our Kiwano in a region called the Bay of Plenty (yes, it’s pretty apt!). This beautiful area is best known as the world capital of the kiwifruit. Our annual harvest starts in the New Year, with our first Kiwano reaching our US customers usually from early February.

If you’ve come this far, thank you so much for joining us. I’d love to hear your feedback. I find myself still learning every day about this wide and varied industry both here in New Zealand and internationally. And if there’s anything you’d like to discuss offline, just email me on vanessa@enzedexotics.com.

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2 thoughts on “Growing the best Kiwano on earth. It’s no accident

  1. Hi Vanessa,
    I ordered two of these fruit, which arrived yesterday. I was curious to try them. I haven’t cut one yet, probably tomorrow. I’d never heard of them before. You wouldn’t want to handle them with bare hands would you?
    I’ll let you know what I think.
    Cheers Robyn

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