I was not planning on writing about pineapples today. Here’s how this went down.
Me: Look! I bought a pineapple!
Eric: Ummm, okay. Cool.
4 hours later…
Eric: So, what part of the pineapple is actually eaten? Is it the root, or the stem, or the fruit, or what? I mean, do you really know anything about pineapples?
Me: I’m pretty sure it’s the fruit, why?
Eric: Ummm…can you write about that tomorrow? For your Foodie Friday blog post?
Holy Moly! 4,274 points for the hubby. He’s reading my blog AND he knows what I normally write about on Fridays. So, per his request, let me introduce you, dear readers, to the wonderful world of pineapple.
The English word pineapple first appeared in 1398. The fruit that we now think of as a pineapple, was called a “pineapple” because it looked like a pine cone-which used to be called a pineapple. And remember, that “apple” used to be used for anything that was a fruit. This is like some crazy Jerry Springer confusion going on here…
In Spanish, pineapples are called piña “pine cone”-“Do you like piña coladas? And getting caught in the rain?”
A pineapple is not just “one” fruit-it is a multiple fruit. Multiple, helically-arranged flowers along the axis each produce a fleshy fruit that becomes pressed against the fruits of adjacent flowers, forming what appears to be a single fleshy fruit.
For all you math nerds out there… the fruit of a pineapple are arranged in two interlocking helices, eight in one direction, thirteen in the other, each being a Fibonacci number.
The most common pollinator of the pineapple is the hummingbird. Pollination is needed for seed to form, but the seeds negatively affects the quality of the fruit. So in Hawaii, where pineapple is cultivated for business, importation of hummingbirds is prohibited. So, apparently we have an abundance of ravenous hummingbirds flitting around?
Pineapples are members of the bromeliad family (which also makes it related to Spanish moss). These plants do CAM photosynthesis. Basically, they photosynthesize at night. Cacti are like this, too. NOTE: I THINK this is accurate. It’s been awhile since I took botany.
Where is it Grown?
Although we think of pineapples coming from Hawaii, or even South America, the most pineapple is grown in Southeast Asia. However, Costa Rica does export more than anyone else. Where are all those pineapples going?
Prior to 2000, most of the U.S. pineapple came from a variety of places including Hawaii (the only state in the U.S. to grow pineapples commercially). Now, most of it comes from Hawaii. Because the Pineapple Research Institute in Hawaii (not kidding) created genetically engineered, modified, low-acidic, sweeter (cause God knows we need more sugar!), and otherwise non-natural lab pineapple, most of our pineapple now comes from there. Yum.
Peak season for fresh pineapple is from March to July, but it is available year-round in most markets.
Can You Grow It At Home?
Yes! And I’m thinking about trying it. It will take a few years, but it will provide a nice pot of foliage in the meantime. Basically, by cutting of the top, or crown, of the pineapple off, promoting root growth, potting it, and nurturing it in a temperate environment, it will result in a yummy fruit. Check out this site for detailed steps.
Storage & Shelf-Life
At the grocery store, choose a mature pineapple that has healthy, firm, green leaves (not yellow or brown) and with a fruit skin that is golden brown (not too green). Test for ripeness by gently pulling on a leaf. If it pops out with ease, the fruit is overripe.
It can bruise easily, so be cautious with it. It will start fermenting rather quickly, so it should be eaten within 2-3 days. However, a cut pineapple that is covered in juice in an airtight container can be refrigerate and should be used within five to seven days. Let the fruit return to room temperature before eating to improve flavor.
Freshly-cut pineapple can be frozen in juice or syrup, but it will lose some flavor. Peel, core and cut into chunks. Place in airtight plastic bags or covered containers with their natural juice and freeze up to 6 months.
Canned pineapple more your thang? Leftover canned pineapple should be refrigerated in its juice in a covered container and consumed within a week. NOTE: In ITS juice. Not syrup. Be sure that the pineapple is canned in its own juice with no sugar added.
Looking for COOLER way to cut your fresh pineapple? Try cutting it like this and presenting it in a pineapple boat!
Ummm, Why Should I Care?
Pineapples definitely aren’t for everyone. And, they definitely aren’t for some more than on an occasional basis.
Some of the enzymes found in pineapple can be hazardous to someone suffering from certain protein deficiencies or disorders, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Raw pineapples also should not be consumed by those with hemophilia or by those with kidney or liver disease, as it may reduce the time taken to coagulate a consumer’s blood. I feel like one of those weird pharmaceutical commercials…
Some claim that pineapple helps for some intestinal disorders and others believe it serves as a pain reliever; others claim that it helps to induce childbirth when a baby is overdue. Watch out pregnant ladies!
Pineapple is a good source of manganese-91% of the amount needed daily is found in 1 cup of pineapple. Manganese is used with other enzymes for antioxidant benefits.
As well, it contains a whole lot of Vitamin C (94 % in a 1 cup serving) and Vitamin B1 (8 % in a 1 cup serving). Vitamin B1 helps with blood circulation and overall metabolism, while Vitamin C is necessary for a healthy immune system. Vitamin C also helps with free radicals in the “water” parts of our bodies.
It is somewhat high on the glycemic index, if you’re worried about blood sugar spikes, or just overall regulation of blood sugar. As far as fruits in general, it is one of the highest.
It also has a pretty high acidity level. This is not helpful to those with intestinal problems, GERDS, heartburn, stomach ulcers, or for those who always get those little white bumps on their tongue after eating something acidic. ME!
The root and fruit are applied topically as an anti-inflammatory.
It is traditionally used as a way to get rid of worms in the Philippines. (Not like fish bait, like intestinal worms…)
In some cultures, the pineapple is associated with the notion of “welcome”. In the early days of colonial America, fresh pineapple became the sought-after symbol of prestige and social class. In fact, the pineapple, because of its rarity and expense, was such a status item that all a party hostess had to do was to display the fruit as part of a decorative centerpiece, and she would be awarded high praise of social awe and recognition. I think I’m going to start taking pineapples as a hostess gift to parties…whaddya think?
In the Philippines, pineapple leaves are used to make a textile fiber called piña. (No, you can’t drink it.)
Pineapple contains an enzyme, which breaks down protein, so pineapple juice makes a wonderful marinade and tenderizer for meat.
1 cup of pineapple has only about 76 calories. That makes it a wonderful “pull-out-of-the-fridge-and-eat” snack. Actually, pineapple should be eaten alone, in-between meals, so that the body can use all of the enzymes for itself, instead of for digesting food.
But pineapple also tastes great with all kinds of other combinations of food. I use it more as a “treat”, as I try to get my calories from healthier fruits. I will put it on my pizza, toss it on top of chicken and spinach salads, and on top of baked hams. If you’re a fan of salty and sweet combinations, pineapple is a great way to incorporate the “sweet” because it’s not cloying-it also has a tart taste.
I love those little aluminum foil baking packs. Makes for super-easy clean up.
This recipe has a pork factor, but Pineapple Salsa is yummy. I actually made a fruit salsa (pineapple, apple, tomato, seasonings, etc.) with my first graders once, and they loved it. The pineapple really adds a lot.
And, the ever traditional Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.
This also reminds me that I haven’t seen Pineapple Express, the movie. Big fan of Seth Rogen…not a big fan of marijauna…worth two hours of my life, or not?