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About the Wonderful Fruit We Call Pineapple

There aren’t many people in the world who haven’t eaten pineapple. It is widely available and the plant is grown in a lot of different places. Pineapple is a wonderful fruit. There is quite a bit of information that the average person isn’t aware of when it comes to pineapples, though.

Pineapples originated in southern Brazil and it gets its name from an entirely different plant. The term “pine apple” was originally used to describe the reproductive organ of pine trees; what is normally called ‘pine cones’ now. The first Europeans who saw pineapples for the first time felt that there was a strong resemblance to pine cones, so the name “pineapple” was applied. Pineapples are unrelated to pine trees, however, and any resemblance is superficial.

Pineapple fruit is actually berries that have coalesced together. The fruit is usually quite healthy, containing large amounts of vitamin C, magnesium, fiber, and an enzyme known as bromelain. Bromelain is strongly anti-inflammatory and has been used for the treatment of post-operative inflammations, arthritis, and to reduce inflammation in general. However, bromelain is also extremely heat-sensitive and breaks down easily when heat is applied.

Not all pineapples have the same amount of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, either. In part, this is because there are over 2,000 cultivars of pineapple. Some varieties produce fruit that is strongly acidic, sour or bitter, and not very sweet. This is also true of most pineapple that grows wild.

Some varieties of pineapple are quite sweet, though, and aren’t especially sour or bitter. Pineapples are also unusual in that once the fruit is harvested, it stops ripening. It will gradually ferment and rot, but it won’t get any riper. In fact, this is one reason that canned pineapple tends to be sourer than the ripe fruit that is sold in stores. Pineapple for canned pineapple is often under-ripe when it is harvested, due to the size.

This can be a problem since under-ripe pineapples don’t get sweeter. In fact, if they are too green, they are poisonous. Still, pineapple is often harvested before it is ripe, even if it is going to be sold as fresh fruit because it ships better. Usually, the fruit is merely sprayed with a chemical that produces ethylene, which causes the pineapple to take on the familiar yellow to golden color.

Unfortunately, this also means that the best test of ripeness when selecting the fruit at the store, that being to smell the fruit to make sure that it has a distinct pineapple smell, still isn’t very accurate. You may simply be smelling the ethylene.

Pineapple is a good addition to the diet, but there is quite a bit that most people don’t know about it. For people who don’t like the taste of pineapple, in fact, it is likely that they haven’t tasted a cultivar that they like yet. Not all pineapples are created equal.

What do you think?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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  1. Thank you for sharing information about pineapple. This fruit is also available in our country. Though up to this time, I only know two varieties of this fruit and I am not even sure if these are the real names. I just heard it from my parents. Hawaii and Mariposa. My grandfather plant pineapple on his farm. So I know that it would usually take 2 years before we could harvest pineapples.

    • A “Hawaii” pineapple is probably a reference to one of the cultivars of ‘smooth cayenne pineapples’. That would include Hawaiian Gold and Hilo pineapples. I’m not sure what kind Mariposa pineapples are, but it could also be a local name.

      About 90% of the canned pineapple in the world is from smooth cayenne pineapples.

      Yes, pineapples are slow maturing. They are also surprisingly easy to grow from the tops of the fruit, particularly in tropical areas. They can be grown as ornamentals indoors in colder areas. The plants rarely get much more than four feet tall and are normally less than this.

    • It would be interesting to find out which variety is primarily grown there. That wouldn’t necessarily mean that you’d be able to find it, though, since most of our pineapples come from Hawaii or Mexico. Dole corners the market in the States and they grow mostly only one kind.

      • They actually (Dole) grow many fewer pineapples on the Hawaii plantations now than in the past.

        I suspect, knowing the way plants grow, it is more solid and environment than anything else.

        Thai Pineapples do not travel well.

    • I seldom buy fresh pineapple because of the expense, but there are so many recipes that include pineapple that it isn’t uncommon for us to go through at least a few cans per month. My wife can go through a whole can by herself, mixing it with cottage cheese. 🙂

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