Pineapple plant is a tropical fruit that is indigenous to South America. Originally coming from the area between southern Brazil and Paraguay. The pineapple spread throughout South America, the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico, where it was cultivated by the Mayas and the Aztecs. Columbus came across the pineapple in 1493 and took it back to Europe.
The word 'pineapple' was recorded in 1398 to describe 'pine cones'. It was not until 1694 that pine cones were first called pine cones. On arrival to the Americas, European explorers called the tropical fruit pineapples around 1664 because they resembled the pine cone. An individual pineapple can take over two years to grow, although they are usually picked slightly earlier than this.
The most famous pineapple entrepreneur was James Dole who moved to Hawaii and started a pineapple plantation in 1900, just after John Kidwell first introduced a pineapple industry to Hawaii. 'Dole' is still a major company in the pineapple industry today.
The top of a pineapple, after cleaning and drying, can be planted in soil and a new plant will grow. When growing its fruit the pineapple plant produces over 200 flowers varying in color from lavender, through to light purple and red. The individual scale like fruits of these flowers then join together to create the pineapple.
The individual fruit segments of a pineapple interlock in two helices, 8 in one direction, 13 in the other, each of which is a Fibonacci number.
Fruit: The oval to cylindrical-shaped, compound fruit develops from many small fruits fused together. It is both juicy and fleshy with the stem serving as the fibrous core. The tough, waxy rind may be dark green, yellow, orange-yellow or reddish when the fruit is ripe. The flesh ranges from nearly white to yellow. In size the fruits are up to 12 in. long and weigh 1 to 10 pounds or more.
Selection and Storage
Pineapple or ananas season lasts from March until June when fresh fruits available in the markets at their best. In the store, choose that are heavy for their size. While larger fruits will have a greater proportion of edible flesh, they make no difference in quality over a small size pineapple.
Choose fruit that should be free of soft spots, mold, bruises and darkened "eyes," all of which may indicate that the fruit is past its prime. Some people judge freshness, ripeness and quality by tapping a finger against the side of the fruit. A good, ripe pineapple has a dull, solid sound while immaturity and poor quality are indicated by a hollow thud. It stops ripening as soon as it is picked; therefore, choose fruit with a fragrant sweet smell at the stem end. Avoid those that smell musty, sour or fermented.
Ripe fruits perish quickly if left at room temperature and should be eaten rather early. Moreover, since they are chill sensitive and therefore, cannot be stored in the refrigerator for long periods. However, if not readily eaten; you may prepare the fruit and place the whole or cut sections wrapped inside a thin plastic cover in the refrigerator for 1-2 days for later use.
Preparation and serving method
Pineapple can be cut and peeled in many ways. Usually, the crown and the base of the fruit are chopped off with a knife. To peel the fruit, place its base side down and carefully slice off the skin, carving out any remaining "eyes" with the tip of your knife. Once the rind is removed, cut the fruit into desirable chunks.
One may also use pineapple "corers" to make the job easier. While they provide a quick and convenient method for peeling and coring pineapples, sometimes, they result in waste of a good amount of fruit since they often cannot be adjusted for different-sized fruits. Similarly, some markets offer devices that will peel and core the ananas, but once again, this process may result in wastage of some fruit.
Pineapple flesh and juice is used in many cuisines throughout the world, it is often cooked, eaten raw or canned in its juices as chunks or cored slices. It is a commonly used fruit for fruit salads and eaten with dairy desserts such as ice cream and yogurt. It is also used in Asian stir fry's such as sweet and sour pork or as a topping on pizzas such as the Hawaiian pizza. Most tropical countries sell pineapple on roadsides as a snack either whole or halved. Pineapple juice is also a popular tropical drink and it is the main ingredient in the Piña colada cocktail.
Here are some serving tips:
6. The fruit is used in a variety of delicious pineapple recipes, mainly as a flavoring ingredient.
Pineapples are loaded with vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. It is also rich in fiber and calories. On top of it all, this fruit is low in fat and cholesterol. All the nutrients it contains promote good health.
Health benefits of