Natural, fresh pineapple is juicy and you serve it in slices, wedges or chunks. The sweetness in pineapples goes well in sweet and sour dishes and you can mix it with ham, pork or chicken. Pineapples, or Ananas comosus, is a popular tropical fruit, which was domesticated in pre-Colombian times in South America. The name pineapple was given by Spanish explorers who thought the fruit resembled a pine cone.
Description of the Plant
The pineapple plant is a member of the family Bromeliaceae, which grows mainly in the New World tropics and subtropics. Bromeliads often have brightly coloured foliage and flowers. Many of the species belonging to the bromeliad family are grown hanging from trees. However, a pineapple plant is a short bush with long leaves.
Each pineapple fruit is actually multiple fruits that have been formed from a thickened stem surrounded by hundreds of fruitlets that have been fused together. A fruitlet is a raised button on the surface stem, and it is formed from individual ovaries of several flowers. Each flower produces a fruit that swells with juice and pulp to mature into a single mass to form the fruit. Short tufts of spiky hard leaves surround the flowering head.
Rind and Flesh
Pineapples have a tough and hard rind, which consists of the remains of the flowers and the pointed bracts. The colour is golden orange and, despite its hard and dry appearance, juice can be extracted from the rind. Handling the rind may cause rashes on some people's skin. Pineapple has no seeds but the core of the fruit is hard since it consists of the old stem. Remove the core to produce the characteristic pineapple rings. The flesh is juicy and yellow.
Pineapples contain large amounts of natural acids such as citric, malic and tartaric. These juices may aid digestion since they closely resemble natural gastric juices. Bromelain is an enzyme that is found in pineapple juices and stems. It promotes the digestive process and helps to break down protein in foods. The fruit is rich in essential trace nutrient manganese, which helps to keep your bones strong and healthy. It is also a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A, antioxidants, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. Pineapples contain dietary fibres and the sodium content is low. Like most fruits, it is cholesterol and fat free.
How to Select
Choose pineapples that feel heavy for their size, with no bruising or soft spots. Look for pineapples with green leaves. Pineapples have a sweet and tangy taste and a ripe pineapple should smell sweetly of pineapple.