Everything You Need to Know About Pineapple
Pineapples are a symbol of hospitality. Once upon a time, the crowned fruit represented wealth and high society, signalling to guests that no expense had been spared in attempt to guarantee their enjoyment. A pineapple was often perched in the centre of the table as a sign of welcome and friendship, with many Native Americans placing them outside their homes if they were expecting guests.
In practical terms, a pineapple is a member of the bromeliad family, despite it being extremely rare that bromeliads produce edible fruit. They do not grow on trees, but rather spring from a pedestal stem, and are formed by dozens of individual flowerets that grow together to form the entire fruit.
There are numerous varieties of pineapples, the five most popular commercial varieties are:
- This is a new variety trademarked and registered to Dole.
- These are large and have a golden-yellow flesh. The firm and fibrous flesh is juicy, tart and very sweet; this is the most common variety of pineapple.
- Rather small, the yellow flesh is firmer, less acidic, and slightly drier than the cayenne variety, and not quite as sweet.
- A medium-sized variety with purplish skin and pale-coloured flesh that is very fragrant, acidic, and slightly fibrous.
- Medium-sized with whitish or yellowish flesh that is moderately acidic, tender, and sweet.
How to Select and Store Pineapple
Pineapples ripen until they’re picked, and no special way of storing them will help to ripen them further. Colour is relatively unimportant in determining ripeness, and instead it’s recommended to choose a pineapple that is heavy for its size and pleasantly aromatic; it should smell tropical, sweet, and fresh. The crown should be made up of deep green leaves and the skin should yield to slight pressure when pressed by your fingers. The more scales on the pineapple, the sweeter and juicier the taste.
Avoid pineapples with spots, mold, or sodden skin. Tap the pineapple lightly with the palm of your hand; a muffled sound is a sign of ripeness, while a hollow sound is an indication that the fruit may be dried out. Darkened “eyes”, soft spots, and yellowing leaves indicate that the pineapple is no longer fresh.
Pineapples are very perishable and bruise easily. This fruit tends to ferment when kept too long at room temperature and deteriorates if exposed to temperatures below 44°F.
Pineapple will keep for 1 to 2 days at room temperature, but will not become any sweeter, only slightly less acidic.
Pineapple can be stored wrapped in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator; it will keep for 3 to 5 days.
Cut pineapple will also keep in the refrigerator for several days when stored in an airtight container.
How to Prepare Pineapple
Here are three great techniques that can be used to cut up a pineapple:
1) Cut off the top and bottom of the pineapple and slice off the skin with vertical strokes of a knife; remove any remaining “eyes” with the tip of a knife. Cut the flesh into slices and, as desired, into chunks or small cubes.
2) Trim both ends and cut the pineapples in half lengthwise. Separate the flesh from the skin with a knife, remove the core if desired, and cut the flesh into pieces.
3) Slice off only the top of the pineapple, and separate the flesh from the skin with a knife. After the flesh has been cut in pieces, it can be replaced in the hollowed-out skin.
Suggested pineapple cooking methods:
Pineapple is not commonly cooked and enjoyed on its own, unless you are grilling it on the BBQ and adding a slice to a burger. Pineapple is however often used in cakes, used as a pizza topping, and added into Asian dishes.
- Grill on medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes until grill marks appear, flipping after 2 minutes.
- Melt butter in large frying pan over medium heat. Add pineapple slices, and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, turning pineapple occasionally. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes
- Pineapple is a meat tenderizer. It also keeps gelatin from setting, turns milk sour (but has no effect on yogurt or ice cream), and softens other fruits in a fruit salad.
- Hollowed out pineapple boats make a lovely edible presentation for cold salads, vegetables or fruit salads.
- To tell if a pineapple is ripe, pluck one of the green leaves off the top- it will come out easily if the pineapple is ripe. Important to note: if picked unripe, a pineapple with never get riper.
- Fresh pineapple can be cut and frozen in its juice or in syrup, however keep in mind it tends to lose some of its flavour when frozen.
Pineapple Goes Well With:
Pineapple goes well with: ham, seafood, cherries, chicken, duck, pork, cottage cheese, rice, tomatoes, orange, lime, chocolate, coleslaw, coconut, yogurt, cream, tofu, rum and brandy.
Pineapple Serving Ideas
Pineapple can be prepared in a number of ways (see above), and is equally good raw, cooked, dried, candied, or made into juice.
It is often incorporated into sauces, pies, cakes, fruit salads, sweets, yogurt, ice cream, sorbets, and punches.
Add chopped pineapple to stir-fries for a sweeter flavour, and add to this Vietnamese style sour soup that uses pineapple for sweet and sour flavour.
Use as part of a marinade for beef or pork to help tenderize the meat.
According to the Canadian Nutrient File, 100 g of raw pineapple contains 80% of vitamin C, 8% of folate, 6% of vitamin B-6, 5% of magnesium, and 3% of potassium.