Originally named after its resemblance to the ‘Pine Cone’, pineapple is a cylindrical shaped tropical fruit with a thick, prickly, diamond-patterned skin with a crown of green spiky leaves.
The pineapple plant can bloom hundreds of spectacular, spiral shaped flowers which miraculously fuse together to form the fruit. This means that a pineapple is actually many individual fruits (called eyes) that join together to form the large pineapple that we all recognise.
Pineapples are native to South America, but are now grown and cultivated in many tropical regions around the world.
My home State of Queensland, Australia happens to be a prolific grower of pineapple and has over the course of many decades carefully cultivated a world renowned species that is fluorescent gold and sweetly perfumed.
I once planted a pineapple head; it eventually grew into a plant which took almost two years to bear fruit. Given such a long growing cycle, it’s probably easier and quicker to just go and buy one.
Pineapple generally has a juicy, sweet (yet tart) flesh made of tender fibres.
The fruit can be peeled and eaten raw, chopped and added to fruit salads or blended into smoothies, mocktails and cocktails.
It can also be cooked on the barbecue, crumbed and deep-fried as a fritter, or caramelised in a pan with butter, brown sugar and flambéed with rum.
Be aware that fresh pineapple contains an acid called ‘Bromelain’ which breaks down proteins, such as gelatine. Therefore, if you want to make sure your pineapple jelly or cheesecake will set, you’ll need to cook out the acid first.
However, the acid can also help tenderize foods such as calamari when soaked in a pineapple puree.
Pineapple is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and calories, but high in fibre, antioxidants and vitamin C.