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Roman Trusov
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What - Actinidia?

My first acquaintance with this product happened, though it may sound strange, not in a restaurant production, and not in a far-away country, but in my summer cottage in the country side. My parents planted a liana that twined around the building smartly like a vine and served as a decoration of the territory. I was amazed not only by the beauty of the plant, but by its taste as well. Jam that my mother cooked after collection of fruit turned to have an interesting taste. Actinidia is a shrub liana that numbers more than 40 species. Kiwi that all of us are used to is one of this plant species. Kiwi has another title - Actinidia deliciosa. But I’d like to tell you about other sorts that have unique taste varieties, interesting chemical composition, but are used in cookery not so often. On the territory of Russia there are several species of actinidia, one of them is called Actinidia kolomikta. It is a dioecious plant, so it is characterized by sexuality. Life period of actinidia is up to 100 years. Fruit represent small oblong berries from 1 to 2 cm in length. The berries have strong sour-sweet taste with shade of strawberries, pineapple and kiwi. The chemical composition of actinidia is unique! Above everything I’d like to mention that it contains a good amount of pectic substance. That’s what attracted my attention! In case of certain heat and mechanical processing it gives gellike structure. Actinidia contains up to 10% of sugars, up to 3% of organic acid, it is rich in trace elements, and tanning agents. High concentration of vitamin Р, provitamin А and record-breaking concentration of vitamin С. Leaves of actinidia can be infused with tea, they contain ascorbic acid, tannins and several organic acids. Its bark contains cardiac glycoside.

Actinidia stimulates growth and formation of connective tissue, enhances exchange of  amino acids and assimilation of carbohydrates. It improves resistibility to various infections and viruses, chemical intoxication. Synthesis and retention of collagen strengthens our vessels, bone tissue, teeth, skin, tendon. By including actinidia in diet blood cholesterol is normalized, iron enzymes are well assimilated, blood formation is stimulated. It’s spring now, and I have a jar of ground with sugar confit made of actinidia. I consider combination with certain cheese sorts to be perfect, for example, with Pecorino Nero. What’s more actinidia facilitates adrenalin release. For me adrenalin is a kind of a drug. Perhaps that’s why I got mad with this product from the very first try. Actinidia improves flexibility and strength of vessels. It assists in organism clearance from toxic substances such as nicotine and other more aggressive toxins. It accelerates wound and burn healing, and prevents gum bleeding. It protects significant fats and liposoluble vitamins (especially vitamins A and E) from oxidation. It weakens exposure to various allergens. It strengthens liver; activates endocrine glands, adrenal glands; improves physical and mental workability. In folk medicine of Far East actinidia kolomikta is used as an analgesic, laxative and antihelminthic remedy. And it is also used in case of scurvy, bleedings, tuberculosis, whooping cough, teeth caries. Actinidia is recommended as general health-improving remedy in case of GI tract diseases, metabolic diseases and anaemia.

In order to save maximum of useful elements in the process of cooking, I suggest paying attention to several factors of culinary processes. It’s desirable to pare down culinary processing of the product to the minimum. I do not recommend to oxidize it by cutting and exposing to mechanical damage. Don’t use blender, because when you grind seeds it gives slightly bitter taste, and leads to oxidation of a great deal of enzymes and vitamins. Heat processing can kill a lot of useful elements as well. If you need to use heat processing, it’s better to do in acid medium whuch would make it possible to save the majority of vitamins. To store actinidia we can freeze, dry and preserve it with sugar not using heat. Shock freezing by liquid nitrogen or in powerful deep-freeze lockers facilitates vitamins saving. It’s better to freeze by portions, as repeated freezing will destroy the majority of vitamins and change the product’s structure. Drying is more effective at the temperature of 55-60 С*, that’s the most optimal mode to get rid of moisture and safe some part of vitamins. I can recommend to dress the berries with lemon juice with the help of a sprayer and then to dry them on coarse sea salt. Sault will help to get rid of water molecules quickly, and lemon juice will maintain acid media which will help to save more useful elements. By experimenting with this berry I found new interesting technologies for myself. So I can recommend you to experiment with this unique product as well.

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