Beneath their sharp, pointed leaves and prickly exterior, fresh pineapples offer a sweet, juicy treasure. Pineapples are indigenous to the New World, ranging from Central to South America. The Spanish called them pinas because of their resemblance to pine cones; at some point, the English word apple got tacked on to identify pineapples as a fruit rather than inedible conifer cones.
Pineapples are available year-round, but there’s a peak marketing push from Thanksgiving through March, when quality is excellent. There are many different varieties, but in the US we tend to see Gold Pineapples, Baby Hawaiians or South African Baby pineapples. All of these varieties have been bred for brilliant yellow flesh that’s very sweet and aromatic.
How to select and store pineapples
Exterior skin color is not always an indicator of ripeness; some varieties are brown, some yellow, others green — ripe Golds and South African Baby pineapples should have golden exteriors, while Baby Hawaiians are brown.
Let your nose be your guide: pineapples should smell fragrant and sweet at the stem end. Look for heavy, plump pineapples that yield to light finger pressure. The crown of leaves should be bright green and fresh-looking.
Pineapples don’t ripen after picking, so sweet flesh is guaranteed only if the fruit was picked ripe.
Pineapples are very perishable and should be refrigerated to prevent spoilage and fermentation. Refrigerate cut pineapple, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days, or freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months; frozen pineapple is perfect for smoothies, sauces and puréed cocktails.
Tips for using pineapples
Fresh or cooked, pineapple adds color, flavor and sweetness to a wide range of dishes, from soups and salads to meats, seafood and desserts.
To peel and cut a pineapple, slice off the crown and about half an inch of the base. Place the pineapple upright on a cutting board and cut off the skin and “eyes” in strips, working from top to bottom, following the contour of the fruit. Use a small knife to remove any brown eyes that remain. Cut the pineapple lengthwise into quarters. Slice the tough core from the inside of each quarter and discard (exceptions to this rule are South African Baby and Hawaiian Baby pineapples, whose edible cores don’t require trimming). Then slice the quarters lengthwise into spears, or crosswise into chunks or cubes.
Why choose organic?
Choose organic whenever you can to help keep the residues of conventional agricultural pesticides and fertilizers out of your food. Organic produce is grown without toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, using sustainable farming methods that protect the environment and help keep pesticides out of our soil, air, water and food supply. Organic food is the healthiest choice for people and the planet — and we think it tastes better, too!
WhatsOnMyFood.org from the Pesticide Action Network shows you searchable results for pineapples and a wide range of other organic and conventional foods. It’s an easy-to-use and empowering tool for learning about pesticide residues and their health effects for all of us.