Information About Pineapples
Native to South and Central America, pineapples had been cultivated for centuries before Christopher Columbus discovered them on his voyage to the West Indies in 1493. Astonished and delighted by the extraordinary appearance and flavor of the fruit, he bought some back to Europe. Where they were regarded with wonder and awe. Due to their rarity and high cost, they became a symbol of hospitality an stone pineapples often featured on the gateposts of houses to welcome guests.
The first pineapples ripened in glasshouses were presented to Louis XV of France, whose passion for the fruit made them even more highly prized.
By the late 16th century pineapples were grown in tropical Africa, India, the East Indies and China. Pineapples are now grown in every tropical region of the world. But the Hawaiian plantations dominate the world market.
Pineapples are probably the most recognizable fruits consisting of dozens of lozenge-shaped protuberances, each one being the fruit of a single flower which together make up a single pineapple.
Resembling a large pine cone topped with a spiky grey-green plume of leaves, a whole pineapple makes a spectacular addition to a fruit platter.
The warm distinctive aroma of the fruit is also very pleasing. Pineapples are very versatile fruit, their sweet acidic taste lending itself to sweet and savoury dishes.
Pineapples which are rich in both vitamin C and dietary fibre provide about 46 kilocalories per 100 g/33/4oz.
They contain bromelin, an enzyme that aids digestion so are the perfect fruit to finish a rich meal.
Pineapples contains bromelin, an enzyme that breaks down protein (similar to papain in papaya). this means that meat that is marinated in fresh pineapple juice will fall apart if left for too long.
Also if pineapple is added to gelatine, such as in jellies, the bromelin will prevent the gelatine from setting. Bromelin is destroyed by heating, so cooked or tinned pineapple or pasteurized pineapple juice can be added to gelatine with no detrimental effects.
Buying and Storing
- Select plump, heavy fruits with fresh green crown,leaves, a fragrant aroma and a very slight separation of the eyes.
- An easily removed crown leaf is not a sure indication of ripeness. Though the shell turns yellow with time, pineapple do not ripen after they are harvested.
- To test for ripeness, gently pull out one of the bottom leaves; it should come out easily. Avoid lifeless –looking bruised or withered fruit with browning leaves.
- Use the fruit as soon as possible after purchase.
- Do not store whole pineapples in the fridge, although peeled, sliced or cubed pineapples can be chilled in an airtight container for up to three days.
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