Tuesday, August 16, 2011
How to Choose a Pineapple
One of our stops in Costa Rica was a Pineapple Plantation. On the way there, our guide asked how we selected pineapples at the grocery store. Answers were varied. Smell them. Pull on the leaves to see if they are loose. Feel for soft spots. Tap them and listen to the sound. Look at the color – is it golden? Check the size of the pattern on the sides.
When we arrived at the plantation, we learned a bunch of things I hadn’t known about pineapples.
First of all – they do not continue to ripen after picking. They are picked when they are ripe. All that happens to them after picking is fermenting or rotting. So, once you get the pineapple home, you should pop it into the refrigerator. Leaving it out at room temperature will speed the rotting or fermenting process.
The only purpose to smelling the pineapple is to discover if it is fermenting or rotting – not to find out if it is ripe. None of the other tests are useful, unless you are looking for a table decoration. Then the color and size of the pattern matter.
Second, pineapples are epiphytes – like orchids. They take almost nothing from the soil, so a pineapple plantation can be used for years without depleting the soil.
Third, you can grow a new pineapple plant from the top of a pineapple.
Fourth, pineapple plants can be encouraged to set and bear fruit if you expose them to ethylene gas, which is made by mature pineapples, apples, bananas and other fruits.
Fifth, fresh squeezed pineapple juice is delicious – it hasn’t picked up any of that metalic taste I always associate with pineapple juice.
About 75% of pineapples in the USA come from Costa Rica. It’s great to know that they are organically grown, since I’ve become addicted to them.