Picking the Perfect Pineapple

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     If you have ever been to the Hawaiian Islands, then you have probably had a chance to eat some of the best pineapple in the world.  It is so good, that you can actually eat it till your teeth hurt, and your mouth is sore from the juice. What a truly great treat. 

     Shipping pineapple home is certainly an option, and in that case, you will want pineapple that is closest to picking day.  While you are on the islands, though, you might want to know a little bit about how to pick your own pineapple.  Getting a ripe pineapple is not as hard a task as you might think.  So, let’s take a moment and talk about how to pick a pineapple that is ready to eat.  Then, if you decide to send some home to eat later, you will also have a good guide as to know when your pineapples are ready to eat.  This technique will also work on the pineapple you can buy in your local grocery store.

     So, you are standing in front of a bunch of pineapple. Let’s get to work. You will want to start by picking one that looks fresh, and still looks nice and plump.  Look for nice green leaves in the crown of the pineapple.  The pineapple fruit will get wrinkly, and the leaves will brown, as the fruit ages.

     Pick a large pineapple, whenever possible, as this will give you more fruit to eat. Most of the time, they are sold by the pineapple.  Pick one up, and inspect the skin.  The pineapple should still be firm to the touch.  As the fruit ages, it will get softer and softer.  This is due to the sugars in the fruit breaking down. Eventually, they will become alcoholic in nature, or rot.  The color of the fruit is not important.

     Many people will  tell you that picking a leave can help you know when the plant is ripe. This is just not so.  The real truth is, the pineapple will not get any riper or sweeter, once picked!  They will just get older, and less sweet tasting over time.  So, you want to pick the pineapple that is as close to cutting day as possible.  It is a bit of a change in philosophy for many.

     This may help you to better understand: the sweetness of a pineapple comes from starch, which is stored in the stump of the pineapple.  As the pineapples ripen, the starch is converted into sugar.  From a freshness and sweetness standpoint, the plantation wants to pick the fruit at the height of ripeness, then get it moving quickly.  As a consumer, you want to eat the pineapple as close to picking day as possible.

     So, let’s return to the topic of sending some pineapple home for later.  Once you get there, you will want to store your pineapple in the refrigerator, or start eating it.  It is possible to freeze pineapple also, but you will need to “work it up, chunk it, and bag it.”  That way, you can have some for a much later date.  Pineapple that is frozen in the freezer should be discarded after one year.

     One last set of tips on the freshness of pineapple.  Ripe pineapple is graded by the color, though it has nothing to do with the ripeness.  This really has more to do with decoration.  The pineapple growers of Hawaii have a color scale that ranges from 0 to 6.  A pineapple that is a 0 is almost completely green in color.  In fact, you can hear growers talking about pineapple that is “green shell ripe.”  Much of this fruit goes to juice, and canning factories, because the green pineapple is often considered, by the uneducated, to be less than ripe. 

     A pineapple that is a 6 will be almost all yellow, and is the true prize of the bunch for decorations involving real, uncut pineapple.  It is really a matter of perception.  We just think that the yellow pineapple must be sweeter and riper.  So, the savvy hotel banquet planner has just made sure that you only see the yellow pineapple.  Pretty sneaky, huh?  Obviously, you can find pineapple that is somewhere in between also.

     Don’t be too mad at the luau director, though!  Good food is as much a matter of eye presentation, as it is actual taste.  As you come to the table, they just want your eyes to be as happy as your taste buds.  It all works together to bring you a experience of a lifetime.

     So, now you know the facts behind finding yourself a nice, ripe pineapple to eat.  We hope that you enjoy each and every mouth full, while you are in the Hawaiian Islands. If you decide to bring some home, you can now even fool your friends!  You will also have quite the story to tell them.