Pineapple plant is an herbaceous perennial, grows 2 ½ to 5 ft high with a spread of 3 to 4 ft. It is short, stout stem with a rosette of waxy strap like leaves. Pineapples are exceptionally juicy fruits with vibrant tropical flavor that equally balances the tastes of sweet and tart.
Pineapple scientifically known as Ananas comosus are the most used edible member of the Bromeliaceae family and are, therefore, the most widespread bromeliad fruit in cultivation. Besides being produced for consumption, it can be grown as an ornamental, especially when it comes from the leafy tops of the plants. Some sources say that the plant will flower after about 24 months and produce a fruit during the following six months while others indicate a 20-month timetable.
Pineapples are a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Each fruitlet can be identified by an “eye,” the rough spiny marking on the pineapple’s surface. Pineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves and fibrous yellow flesh. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and therefore a sweeter taste and more tender texture.
Pineapple can be consumed fresh, canned or juiced and can be used in a variety of ways. They are popularly used in desserts, salads (usually tropical fruit salads, but it can vary), jams, yoghurts, ice creams, various candies, as a complement to meat dishes and in fruit cocktail. The popularity of this fruit is due to its sweet-sour taste.
Although believed to have originated in South America, pineapples were first discovered by Europeans in 1493 on the Caribbean island that came to be known as Guadalupe. When Columbus and other discovers brought pineapples back to Europe, attempts were made to cultivate the sweet, prized fruit until it was realized that the fruit’s need for a tropical climate inhibited its ability to flourish in this region. By the end of the 16th century, Portuguese and Spanish explorers introduced pineapples into many of their Asian, African and South Pacific colonies, countries in which the pineapple is still being grown today.
In the 18th century, pineapples began to be cultivated in Hawaii, the only state in the U.S. in which they are still grown. In addition to Hawaii, other countries that commercially grow pineapples include Thailand, the Philippines, China, Brazil and Mexico.
Colorful, delicious fresh fruit salad is a temptation to many especially kids and this fruit is a perfect addition to any meal and makes a great snack or dessert. Pineapple is a perfect addition to fruit salads, especially when added to those containing other tropical fruits such as papaya, kiwi and mango.
For purchasing an excellent juicy fruit one must look for pineapples that are heavy in their size as larger pineapples have a greater proportion of edible flesh and there is usually no difference in quality between a small and large size pineapple. Pineapples should be free of soft spots, bruises and darkened “eyes,” all of which may indicate that the pineapple is past its prime. Pineapple stops ripening as soon as it is picked, so it is best to choose a pineapple with a fragrant sweet smell at the stem end. Avoid pineapple that smells musty, sour or fermented.
Add fresh pineapple or pineapple juice to your diet which is one of the excellent ways to improve your health and boost your healing capacity in a natural and tasty way. They are nutritionally packed with antioxidant and bromelain. In India, a variety of dishes are made with pineapple like the Pineapple rasam, pineapple chutney, pineapple halwa and pineapple upside down cake or fresh pineapple juice. Bromelain is a natural anti-inflammatory with analgesic properties that encourages healing, promotes well-being and has many other health benefits. Bromelain is very effective in treating bruises, sprains and strains by reducing swelling, tenderness and pain. Additionally, bromelain can relieve indigestion. The enzyme contained in fresh pineapple helps break down the amino acid bonds in proteins, which promotes good digestion.
Pineapples also provide an ample supply of vitamin C; hence choose the fresh fruit because it has the most healing properties. Unfortunately, most of the bromelain in canned pineapple is destroyed due to the heat used in the canning process. While choosing a fresh pineapple do not judge just on the ripeness of the fruit as there are several varieties of pineapples. The most important fact in determining ripeness is the smell. Ripe pineapples give off a sweet, fresh tropical smell. Avoid pineapples that give off an unpleasant odor or have any soft spots or areas of dark discoloration.
Pineapple tastes exotic and delectable by just eating like that or added to salads and entrees for an exotic flavor, or made into tasty tropical drinks and smoothies. Pineapple is an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. It is also a good source of vitamin B1, vitamin B6, copper and dietary fiber. It’s also high in bromelain, vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium, thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), iron, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and soy isoflavones. Raw pineapple is an excellent source of manganese (45% DV in a 100 g serving) and vitamin C (80% DV per 100 g).
The nutritional values per 100 gms of pineapple are:
Vitamin A : 130 I.U.
Vitamin C : 24 mg.
Calcium : 16 mg.
Phosphorus : 11 mg.
Potassium : 150 mg.
Carbohydrates : 13.7 gm.
Calories : 52