Native to South America, pineapple is a popular summer fruit with a quirky, colorful appearance and tangy sweetness.
Expensive, rare and much-coveted in colonial America, pineapples were featured prominently in elaborately decorative meal displays. They were in such high demand that some vendors even rented pineapples out for the day for people’s home displays, collecting them later to sell to wealthier families who could afford to keep (and eat) the fruits.
Pineapples quickly became an American symbol of hospitality, with even just the image of the pineapple appearing as an artistic motif in the architecture of the affluent.
Fresh pineapple is available at most grocery stores seasonally. The fresh taste is a far superior, more summery snack than any canned variety, but the challenges associated with shipping the tropical fruit are made up for in high prices.
Canned pineapple is less expensive and widely available, though it loses the crispness and acidic bite of the fresh fruit. Generally, canned pineapple is fermented in “pineapple wine,” a fruit wine variety that contributes to a soft sweetness.
When choosing a fresh pineapple, look for a bright shell and perky-fresh, green leaves.
Avoid any softness, discoloration, and droopy leaves.
Both canned and fresh-cut pineapple can be refrigerated for a few days in airtight containers.
Pineapple makes a lovely solo snack or addition to desserts and pineapple fruit salads. Gelatin- or jelly-based recipes should be kept away from pineapple, since its enzymes can alter the texture and constitution of such products.
Pineapple can also be used to help flavor savory dishes and contains a proteolytic enzyme bromelaine that adds to marinades, making meats more tender.
Slicing pineapples is a tricky endeavor. Here are some step-by-step tips:
- Cut the leaves and top and bottom off the pineapple.
- Set the pineapple down on your cutting surface, upright.
- Slice the skin down behind the fruit’s columns of small, dark-brown eyes. Make sure to accommodate the curves of the fruit by turning your knife at the top and bottom.
- Try not to worry about making all of the cuts precisely even, and work slowly so as not to remove too much fruit.
- Cut from top to bottom along the “eyes” to remove the rest of the skin.
- Slice away any remaining bits of skin or “eyes.”
To cut into wedges:
- Cut the fruit vertically into four sections, quartering the core.
- Cut lengthwise along the quarters to remove the core and then dice the pineapple into desired-sized chunks.
To cut into rings
- Use a tool called a “pineapple corer” to remove the core and then slice