How to Select and Serve Fresh Pineapple

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.

Have you ever gotten an underripe pineapple that too hard to cut? Having problems with peeling and slicing? If so, give Foodal's detailed guide a read.

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.

Have you ever gotten an underripe pineapple that was hard as your granite countertops? Having problems getting that sucker peeled and sliced just so? If so, give Foodal's detailed guide a read and you'll have all of your pineapple problems solved. Get the guide here:

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.

pineapple growing in on farm in hawaii

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?

The crown of a pineapple being sliced off in order to prepare and serve

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.

Humand hands and knife peeling the skin off a pinapple on top a cutting board as part of preparation proceess

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.

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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!

37 thoughts on “How to Select and Serve Fresh Pineapple”

  1. Have you seen those pineapple cutters that make the process of cutting and coring so much quicker? I was a non-believer until I picked one up for a couple bucks – it makes a world of difference! Plus, all the juice stays in the pineapple while you’re doing it so you can use it for something else (or drink it like I do )

    • I have never seen those. I will be on in a little while searching for one. Fresh pineapple- can’t beat it.

  2. I have always wondered if those pineapple cutters worked! I have always done it by hand myself but it can be time consuming. I have actually had the Kona Sugarloaf variety in Hawaii and it was so delicious. I have not tasted a pineapple like the ones I had in Hawaii. Until I went there I did not know what the plant even looked like! Did you ever try Dole Whip pineapple ice cream? I had it as much as possible!

    I am going to try planting my own next time I get one!

  3. Very informative. The other day at the grocery store my husband and I wanted to purchase a pineapple but couldn’t agree on how to know which to select. Now I know! I’ll have to show him this. Looks like we are having pineapple this week!

  4. Thank you for this post! I don’t know why picking out pineapples is such a mystery to me. Perhaps because I don’t buy them often. I have purchased several over/under ripe ones before. I love pineapples as a treat–they’ve got a unique taste and are great on their own or in savory recipes.

  5. Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits. It’s so refreshing, especially during the summer months. I usually eat them freshly sliced raw, or sometimes with salt… if we have a BBQ I also like lightly grilled pineapple.

  6. Picking pineapples has always been so hit or miss for me. Now, I know exactly what to look for. I love to make pineapple upside down cake with fresh pineapple instead of pineapple from a can. It tastes so much better.

  7. This was really helpful, thanks a lot! I love fresh pineapple, but between choosing it and cutting it, it always seemed like too much trouble, but you make it really simple! I can’t wait to try this.

  8. I used to serve a sugary dessert after dinner every night. It wasn’t good for our health, so I slowly started serving puddings and Jellos instead. Now I’m transitioning to serving fruit every night, and pineapple is definitely the family favorite.

    I’ve been buying it canned and serving it right out of the can, leaving it in the fridge before serving so it’s chilled. I think now I’m feeling more inspired to buy some fresh. The only thing that kept me from buying fresh was I wasn’t sure how to cut it up. It doesn’t look too hard. I like the idea of using a paper bag to sop up all the extra liquid. That should make for a much easier cleanup.

  9. I used to struggle so hard as a child using a blunt knife, you absolutely have to have a good, long sharp knife. I love the mix of pineapple and cheese on a cheese board.

    • Wait a minute…you mean one can mix pineapple and cheese together?…how is the taste like?…being too conservative is my main problem, i ought to change and get off my comfort zone once in awhile 🙂

  10. Wonderful nugget of knowledge right there, next time am out grocery shopping, pineapples will be at the top of my list, And am saving the crown, plant it in my friend’s backyard…i believe we’ll both benefit 2 years down the line and in the process save us some pocket money 🙂

  11. I actually think the pineapple tastes better when it is yellow. For me, it is like choosing a banana when it is slightly ripe with brown spots. It has more flavor. But to each his own.

  12. I think someone once told me that to select a pineapple, you had to pluck one of the leaves and if it came out easy, it was ready! Someone else announced it was false a few years after. Your tricks sound legit — though really? They are ripe in the grocery already? I remember a few times I had cut into my pineapple too early and it was a bit on the hard side rather than sweet and juicy!

    I love pineapple in some fried rice 🙂 It just makes the mix of salty a bit sweet and fresh, yummy!

  13. This is an awesome article. I find every time I go to the grocery store I am kicking myself in the butt for not researching what each fruit/vegetables looks like when it is ready to eat. I actually didn’t know that when a pineapple arrives at the grocery store, it is already ripe. Now I am laughing at all the time I spent trying to pick the”ripe” one. haha anyways. awesome article thank you!

  14. Thank you for the lowdown. I’ve never had much sucess with buying fresh and now I know why! Whilst I love the taste of pineapple, I only ever have it from a tin. Now I know what I’m looking for, I can look forward to incorporating fresn pineapple into more of my dishes.

  15. This is a very helpful article. I buy pineapples from a local organic farm and it’s hard to figure out whether one will be a “winner” or not. The last one I ate tasted really odd, almost like it had absorbed some odors from old food or something! I wasn’t really sure what the problem was so I ended up throwing it out. Sadly, I had purchased another one at the same time and I still haven’t cut it up to see if it has a good flavor or not…I’m hoping that it tastes much better. My fiancé suggested that we leave it in the fridge for a few weeks to see if the other one just wasn’t ripe…but now that I’ve read your article, I’m guessing that wasn’t the case! Maybe it had just been a bit old?

  16. So I noticed that you cut the top of your pineapple first. I’m guessing that means you’ve never seen a pineapple street vendor in South East Asia lol.

    Here’s a tip: to keep your hands clean, cut the outside of the fruit first, THEN cut the top off. That way, you have something to hold onto while you’re cutting the spiky exterior

  17. When I was younger, I remember my mom used to get us (me and my older brother) pineapple every Monday when we woke up and occasionally on Fridays to remember us about the sweet Mondays we passed. It was our favorite morning “snack”. It also helped us get up for school, One time, she cut it up so badly I refused to eat it and she kind of got mad at me afterwards, haha.

  18. I’m excited, I just used this guide to cut one up, and am rooting the crown. I love pineapple, and am looking forward to eating this, as well as hopefully growing one in the future, if it takes root.

  19. I actually have a tip about pineapple & how to get the best pieces out of one. So, when the pineapple is being transported & stored it’s usually upright. Which lets the juices settle in the bottom of the pineapple & can result in dryer pieces toward the crown. If you buy your pineapple, slice off the crown, & flip it upside down letting it rest that way the juice will filter back through the pineapple. Mmm.

  20. This is by far my favorite fruit; I love the wild flavors that I get every time I bite into a chunk. I really want to try growing my own pineapples now, though I’m sure they wouldn’t be half as good as the ones in Hawaii (I live in Florida). I can attest to bananas being delicious with pineapples; those two fruits are usually what I use in smoothies.

  21. Very informative article. I’ve never dared to buy fruit myself because I could never tell which was fresh, juicy or sweet. My mom always did that for me but after reading this article, I’m interested in picking out pineapples myself. I’ve eaten many pineapples across the world and by far the country with the best pineapple for me is Taiwan. Sweetest and juiciest pineapple you’ll ever have. America’s pineapples are just kinda sour to me, so I never really eat them.

  22. This is good to know. I usually am pretty good at picking ripe fruit. This one I always just grab what looks good and let it sit for awhile. I see that it is good to let it get golden. Yellow and slightly soft is not something I let it do so this should be really good now to try. The slicing method looks good too. I like to watch videos on techniques for this. It’s always good to see different ways to find what’s best.

  23. I never knew how many types of pineapple there were! That’s amazing. Do they all have a different taste? My boyfriend considers himself a pineapple addict, me, not so much. So being able to tell when they are ready to be cut and devoured, or even just knowing which of the fruits to stay away from or not waste money on is a blessing in disguise.

  24. Fun fact about pineapples; every pineapple takes 2 years to grow, that’s quite a long process but the fruit is really unique. I never knew how to determine if a pineapple is fresh or not, never really thought about it. Thank you for the tips, it was very helpful!

  25. I love eating this fruit. My mom tends to take sliced pineapple and then put on the ham to bake in the oven. I have seen it on TV how people tend to grill pineapples. The funny thing is that I won’t eat this fruit on top of pizza. These flavors combined just throw my taste buds off.

  26. Thank you for the advice. I usually buy the pineapples that come in cans, or the ones that have already been sliced, because I didn’t know how to differentiate the fresh from the not so fresh. I also didn’t know there were so many types of pineapples. Now I want to try them all!

  27. Great article! I knew about checking pineapple leaves, but I had no idea that when the fruit is in the store, it can be considered ripe. I love pineapple, and I would have been buying fresh ones much more often had I known..

  28. Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits. I’m a sucker for the acidity-side of the fruit spectrum. Though I usually buy tinned or fresh, pre-cut pineapple, this guide will help me in the future.

  29. Pineapples are delicious and so healthy too! They can be eaten with any meal and are especially good with meat, especially on pizza. I love the taste of pineapple and a little natural juice is also excellent for your skin as it contains anti-aging acids that will speed up dead skin elimination.

  30. Definitely one of my favorite fruits. It is very versital and works great with chicken, to make sauces, with pork and of course fresh chunks in fruit bowls or in smoothies. In central america, the pinapples are very different than can be found in Hawaii or supermarkets in the USA, which are golden pinapples. Here they are much whiter inside and have a more fibrous texture and are less flavorful, so you have to cook them a bit differently. But on the good side, they are basically free here, costing just pennies each.

  31. The pineapple slicer is actually a very useful thing to have on hand, and I am kind of upset that I do not have one yet. I used o work at a place that had,one, and my pineapple intake was a lot more, but now I do not eat as much as I would like to. It is pretty cheap this time of year though, so I will have to go out and finally get one of those.

  32. I live in South Africa in Kwa-Zulu Natal, home to… you guessed it, the Natal pineapple! We have several growing in the garden which we have propagated from locally purchased (and otherwise devoured) fruit. They grow like a dream, but alas, along with the climate they do so well in, we also have Vervet monkeys that somehow always manage to grab them just before they’re ripe enough to pick! Oh well! Thanks for a great article.

  33. This is quite informational. I have the hardest times picking out pineapple while I am at the store. I can’t ever tell if they are under-ripe or perfectly ripe, or even too ripe. No one ever tought me how to check a pineapple! Though, on the times we cut into a fresh, ripe pineapple, we just cut it into chunks and serve it and it gets eaten right away!

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