IN SEASON: Pineapple

I have something to confess to you all – you know that pineapple my son picked in our yard a couple of weeks ago?  It was actually from Costa Rica, not grown hydroponically in our snow.  (Try to contain your shock.)

Midwesterners and others in northern climates get a free pass on this next seasonal fruit – pineapple.  Aside from the person I know who is trying to grow pineapple here,  pineapple simply is not a local food.

But that’s OK.  At this point, having a bit of the tropics in your home can be a fresh food lifeline until other local seasonal delights become available. Though they can be found in stores year-round, pineapples are at their peak from March to May.

Pineapple is a fruit indigenous to South America.  Fresh pineapples found  in U.S. supermarkets are most likely from Costa Rica, Hawaii or possibly Florida.

Pineapples are certainly curious fruits, with their odd, reptilian-looking skin.  Some random facts from Wikipedia:

The pineapple is a herbaceous perennial. When creating its fruit, it usually produces up to 200 flowers. Once it flowers, the individual fruits of the flowers join together to create what is commonly referred to as a pineapple.

The ovaries develop into berries which coalesce into a large, compact, multiple accessory fruit. The fruit of a pineapple is arranged in two interlocking helices, eight in one direction, thirteen in the other, each being a Fibonacci number.

Pineapple’s sweet-sour taste is an exotic change from the winter’s storage apples and oranges, and the fruit’s flesh and juices are a welcome addition to salads, desserts and cocktails.  There’s even a special enzyme in fresh pineapple juice, bromelain, that breaks down proteins and acts as a tenderizer for meats. 
Don’t let the pineapple’s rugged exterior fool you – these are no root vegetables.

Pineapples are picked ripe and can spoil quickly, so try to consume them as soon after purchasing as possible.  Pineapples can be kept for up to 2 days at room temperature, or wrapped tightly in a plastic bag in the fridge for about 4 days.

They seem like they’d be fussy to prep, but really all you have to do is slice off the outer skin, then cut around the core to free the edible fruit.  You’ll save money buying a whole pineapple and cutting it up yourself- right now, whole pineapples cost less than $4, and cored fresh pineapple is more like $6.

One medium-sized pineapple yields about 3 cups of pineapple chunks or 2 cups of juice. 

Here are some recipe ideas to get you started with your own pineapple explorations:

Pineapple Red Quinoa Parfait (a breakfast yogurt parfait, Martha Stewart Show)
Pineapple Salsa (Steven Raichlen for Epicurious)
Pineapple Rice (a vegetarian main dish recipe, 101 Cookbooks)
Chicken and Pineapple Salad (Martha Stewart)
Jerk Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Pineapple Chutney (Cooking Light)
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (Smitten Kitchen)
Bay Breeze cocktail with vodka, cranberry juice and pineapple juice
Blue Hawaiian cocktail with rum, pineapple juice, coconut cream and blue curacao

And finally, one quick and easy weeknight dinner I tried last week:
Broiled Sweet and Spicy Salmon with Pineapple (Everyday Food)

Go on, eat your pineapple.  I won’t tell Barbara Kingsolver.

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3 thoughts on “IN SEASON: Pineapple

  1. Love it — great post! I'm totally laughing at the local pineapple concept! What is a Minnesotan to do?! Enjoy every bite :)

  2. We try to eat local as much as we can but yeah I still crave those tropical fruits like bananas from time to time & have to have them

  3. Pingback: Keen on quinoa | Green Your Plate

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