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The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a well-known tropical fruit that resembles a large, green pinecone, hence its name. The oval to cylindrical shaped fruit has a tough, waxy rind that may be dark green, yellow, orange yellow, or reddish when the fruit is ripe. The flesh ranges from nearly white to yellow. In size, pineapples measure up to 12 inches long and weigh 1 to 10 pounds or more. The edible flesh of the pineapple has a characteristic flavor often described as a mixture of apple, strawberry, and peach all mixed together.
The pineapple is native to South America. When Columbus and other explorers brought pineapples back to Europe, attempts were made to cultivate the sweet, prized fruit until it was realized that the fruits need for a tropical climate inhibited its ability to flourish in that region. By the end of the 16th century, Portuguese and Spanish explorers introduced pineapples to many of their African, Asian, and South Pacific colonies. The United States ranks as one of the world's leading suppliers of pineapples, although pineapples are produced only in Hawaii, to which they were introduced in the 18th century. Other countries that grow pineapples commercially include Thailand, the Philippines, China, Brazil, and Mexico.
Pineapple is an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. It is also a very good source of vitamin B1. In addition, it is a good source of vitamin B6, copper, magnesium, and dietary fiber.
Fresh pineapple is rich in Bromaline, which is made up of a group of sulfur containing proteolytic (protein digesting) enzymes that not only aid in digestion but can effectively reduce inflammation and swelling, as in carpal tunnel syndrome; break down mucus in respiratory conditions, such as pneumonia and bronchitis; and have even been used experimentally as an anti-cancer agent. A variety of inflammatory agents is inhibited by the action of Bromaline. In clinical human trials, Bromaline has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory effects, reducing swelling in inflammatory conditions such as acute sinusitis, sore throat, arthritis, and gout and speeding recovery from injuries and surgery. To maximize Bromaline's anti-inflammatory effects, pineapple should be eaten alone between meals or its enzymes will be used up in digesting food.
Pineapple is also an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, an essential cofactor and a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. For example, the key antioxidant enzyme super oxide dismutase requires manganese. Just one cup of fresh pineapple supplies 73.1% of the daily value of manganese.
SELECTION & STORAGE
A ripe pineapple has a fruity, fragrant aroma, is more yellow than green in color, and is heavy for its size. Avoid selecting pineapple with decayed or moldy spots, especially at the bottom stem.
Pineapple can be left at room temperature for 1 to 2 days before serving. While this will not make the fruit any sweeter, it will help it become softer and more juicy. Yet, as pineapple is very perishable, you should still watch it closely during this period to ensure that it does not spoil. After two days, if you are still not ready to consume it, you should wrap it in a perforated plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator, where it will keep for a maximum of 3 to 5 days.
Pineapple that has been cut up should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to one week. It will stay fresher and retain more taste and juiciness if you also place some liquid, preferably some juice from the pineapple, in the container. Although pineapple can be frozen, this process greatly affects its flavor.
Pineapples must be washed thoroughly before cutting, spray them with a solution of diluted additive-free soap or commercial produce wash and then scrub them under cool running water with a vegetable brush.
After washing, the next step in preparing a pineapple is always to remove the crown and the base of the fruit with a knife. Then, peel the pineapple, place it base side down and carefully slice off the skin, carving out any remaining “eyes” with the tip of your knife. Or cut the pineapple into quarters, remove the core if desired, make slices into the quarters, cutting from the flesh toward the rind, and then use your knife to separate the fruit from the rind. Once the round is removed, cut the pineapple into the desired shape and size.
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