Power to the Pineapple
By Fiona Breslin
Pineapples were once so rare in the Western world they were as often used as dinner table decorations rather than consumed food. This could be why the prickly fruit once symbolized privilege and hospitality. Today the pineapple is among the most popular of the tropical produce available in U.S markets. Beyond their tangy, mouth-watering flavor, a cup of pineapple is a source of almost 50% of the daily value of vitamin C, as well as traces of iron, calcium, fiber and folate for heart and immune health.
While we usually advocate eating local fruits and vegetables, whenever possible, pineapples are native to the U.S. only in Hawaii, so unless you live on Oahu or Maui, there’s no local source. Pineapples are commonly sold in two main types, the “Red Spanish” variety from Central America, and the naturally sweeter “Cayenne.” Pineapples are also available frozen and canned. Look for brands without added sugar, such as Dole’s variety that is packed in water or pure fruit juice, not syrup. The American Institute of Cancer Research reports that adults can lower their cancer risk and improve health by consuming at least 2½ cups of fruits and vegetables daily. Pineapples are a delicious addition to the fruit side of that equation.
A ripe pineapple has a little give at the stem end and will give off a distinct, sugary smell of, well, pineapple. An uncut pineapple will ripen at room temperature on the countertop. Fresh cut pineapple can be stored in your refrigerator for up to five days.
Cut the stem and flower end off the pineapple and cut away the skin, taking as much of the ’eyes’ as possible. Quarter the whole fruit lengthwise and cut away the woody center. Slice and serve. Pineapple is best eaten on its own or added to tropical fruit salads. Use fresh pineapple to make a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, Pineapple Fried Rice, or try it simply Roasted.