Pineapple is a unique fruit that has its own distinct qualities. From its unusually rough, diamond-patterned skin to its sweet-tart taste, the pineapple is one of America’s favorite fruits.
If you live in or travel to Hawaii (as I did when we were stationed at Schofield Barracks), you can pick your own fresh pineapple right off the plant. Otherwise, the closest you’ll probably find yourself to a Hawaiian pineapple is packed in a can, served at a restaurant, or maybe sold fresh in a grocery store.
There are five main varieties of pineapple: the Kona Sugarloaf, the Natal Queen, the Perambuco, the Red Spanish, and the Smooth Cayenne. All of these have the same characteristic tart taste, yet each type has its own individual flavor profile as well. The Smooth Cayenne variety is the type you’ll find most often in the fruit section of your grocery store.
The yellow, juicy inner meat can be fried, sautéed, baked, or juiced. It can also be served sliced or chunked in its fresh state either alone, or in a tasty fruit salad, for example.
So, how do you know when a pineapple is ripe and ready to eat? Unlike bananas, peaches, or apricots, this tropical fruit is picked when it has reached ripeness. Therefore, when it arrives at your local grocery store, it is fully ripe.
However, in order to select a fresh pineapple, you should look for a fruit that has firm green leaves on its top. (This part of the fruit is also known as its “crown.”) Avoid a specimen that has brown, wilted leaves. It’s not fresh. It’s been away from the field for too long.
The body section, or the shell, of this tropical fruit should be bright in color. A pineapple that is left in the field too long will actually turn yellow. It will also turn completely yellow if you leave it sit on your kitchen counter.
Look for bruises, soft spots, mold, and other discolorations on the shell. If you see any, then put that pineapple back and continue your search for a fresh one.
The body section should also feel firm to the touch. Push your fingers against it in various places. The shell should push in slightly, but it should not be soft or mushy.
And, finally, smell the skin and crown. It should give off a slightly sweet aroma at its stem.
Now that you have selected a fresh, juicy specimen, how do you serve it at home?
To prepare this fresh tropical fruit, you’ll need to first remove the crown. To do this, grab a firm hold of the leaves and twist the whole top off.
Then, before you proceed further, place a brown paper bag on your kitchen counter or work surface. The bag will help to soak up the juice and contain the mess.
Then, use a long, sharp knife to slice off the very top of its shell. Slice off the base, too. Slice off the peel carefully, using firm strokes.
Want an easier method? Invest in a pineapple slicer or corer.
Make sure you remove all of the peel before you use the sharp knife to slice or chunk the fruit. Store the chunks or slices in an airtight container in your refrigerator, or use it right away.
You can serve this tasty treat on its own, or you may choose to add it to a fresh fruit salad. Grapes, papayas, and bananas taste great when they are mixed in with pineapple chunks.
Pineapple is an amazing fruit. It reproduces by a process called “propagation.” This means that you can actually grow your own by planting the crown in dirt. It may take up to two years, but your plant can actually produce fruit!
Photo credits: Shutterstock.
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!