A Guide to Buying and Cooking Pineapples
In the dark days of winter, adding some bold flavor to your cooking can really wake up the senses. Pineapple, with it’s rich aroma and tropical flavor, is a versatile fruit that can be used in a huge variety of dishes, from desserts to appetizers and main courses.
It works equally well in savory and sweet dishes and is a terrific source of vitamin C, B1, B6, and fiber.
How to Buy Pineapples
Unless you live in a tropical area, you’ll never eat a truly delectable pineapple. Once picked, pineapples will not ripen further, but a well ripened pineapple is too fragile to ship. Even express shipped pineapples can’t compare to fresh, ripe pineapples found in the tropics.
Nonetheless, you’ll want the ripest pineapples you can find, or you may end up with a sharp, bitter tasting fruit. Look for pineapples with yellowish-gold skin; in non-tropical areas, you may only see this color at the base of the pineapple.
The base should also be firm, but yield to a gentle push. The fruit should also have a mild scent, and the crown should be no less than four inches tall (or more than double the length of the fruit).
Although you may have read that pineapples are ripe if you can pull a leaf from the crown, experts say this is a myth.
If the pineapple is wrinkled, soft, cracked, is leaking juice, has withered leaves, or smells fermented, it is overripe and should be discarded.
For best results, buy pineapples the day you plan to use them. If kept in a cool refrigerator (about 45 degrees F), the pineapple may last a day or two. If kept too cold, taste will deteriorate. If kept warm or room temperature, it will go bad quickly.
How to Cut a Pineapple
Using a long, serrated knife (a bread knife works well), cut off about ½ an inch at the top of the fruit. Set the pineapple on its base.
Slice down the side of the pineapple, being sure to cut behind one of the round, dark brown “eyes” that is near the outer layer of the fruit. If you curve your cuts near the top and bottom of the pineapple, following the contour of the fruit, you’ll loose less edible fruit.
Repeat the previous step, making sure you’re always cutting behind the “eyes,” until the tough outer layer of the fruit is entirely removed. If any eyes or tough parts remain when you’re through, slice them off carefully with a paring knife.
If you want to create pineapple rings, you may either core the fruit with a pineapple corer, then slice the pineapple, or you may slice the pineapple and remove the core from each ring with a paring knife. If you prefer chunks of pineapple, core it much like you would an apple: Cut the pineapple in half, vertically.
Then cut each half in half again, vertically. Then slice off the core from each quarter.
Tips for Cooking with Pineapple
- Pineapple juice makes a terrific marinade for tough meats.
- Pineapple juice also keeps vegetables and fruits from turning brown – but fresh pineapple juice may over-soften fruits and veggies. Use canned pineapple juice instead.
- The core of pineapples can be cut lengthwise and used as a stir stick for drinks.
- Try adding pineapple to your favorite stir fry dish.
- Try grilling pineapple rings along with your favorite BBQ dishes.
- Use a hollowed out pineapple as a “boat” dish for cold fruits, vegetables, or salads.
- Crispy pineapple with coconut ice cream is sure to wake up your senses this winter.
- Roasted pineapple with vanilla flambeed with rum is also a superb choice.
- Check out Our Deer’s other pineapple recipes for more ideas.
Check out the video version of this article on YouTube : A Guide to Buying and Cooking Pineapples