A South American native, each pineapple plant produces one precariously perched fruit. Their evolution is unclear, but varieties range from miniature to giant (20lb+).
It is easy to forget the deliciousness of fresh pineapple. Sir Walter Raleigh dubbed it ‘the princesse of fruits that grow under the sun’ around 1590, but British growers had to wait 100 years for hothouses capable of growing them. A Victorian pineapple craze left its mark in the stone and iron pineapples that ornament many gateposts and railings.
Pineapples contain bromelain, a natural anti-inflammatory which may help arthritis sufferers. The dark side of bromelain is that it stops jelly from setting; do not, therefore, attempt pineapple jelly. It will only lead to heartbreak at teatime.
Pineapples don’t ripen after picking, so choose the plumpest and goldenest. They should have a sweet aroma, but no whiff of alcohol (fermentation). Pineapple production has increased by nearly 50% since 1998, but with human and environmental costs; to avoid contributing to such problems, go Fairtrade or organic (see MakeFruitFair for more info).
Grill pineapple slices with cinnamon, ginger & dark sugar; eat alone or fill a tart with them.
Real tropical fruit salad: fresh pineapple, lychees, papaya, passion fruit & blood oranges (in season Feb-March). Enliven with lime juice, tiny chilli dice and mango ice cream or kulfi.
Homemade piña coladas (cream, rum, coconut, pineapple) are sensational — free yourself briefly from the sodden British spring: have one in the bath on Sunday morning while listening to Desert Island Discs on the radio (oh bliss).
Pineapple & fennel tart. Make without sugar for a more savoury dish
Baked pineapple & gammon (a 1970s classic). The reason this works is that pineapple juice tenderises meat to great effect, so always place it on top, to let the juice drip onto the meat
Hawaiian pizza (pineapple, mozzarella & ham). Often provokes strong responses, especially in Italian guests. Personally, The Taster thinks that, made properly, it is delicious
Steak marinated in pineapple juice & soy sauce. Serve with cold potato salad and hot green beans. Make a marinade of two parts pineapple juice to one part soy sauce; marinade steaks for half an hour, then discard the marinade and grill the steak. Dark & sweet. The hot spicy steak and beans contrast nicely with the cold potatoes
Retro canapés. Spear pineapple and blue cheese chunks on cocktail sticks
Pineapple salsa made with chilli and/or avocado
Our wine buff, Richard J Smith of the Wine School of Cheshire says: Pineapple is a tough call for wine pairing, but for a hearty gammon & pineapple dish, Pinot Noir works. For a real treat, try Mischief & Mayhem’s Red Burgundy 2010. This top-notch choice can be well priced if purchased direct. For something lighter on the palate (and wallet) look for Gamay — lighter bodied, and the grape used to make Beaujolais is perfect for that Hawaiian Pizza evening in!
Very sweet dessert wines will not do pineapple puddings any justice. Try the
much lighter Orange Muscat & Flora from Australia’s Brown Brothers; it’s more subtle, only 10% ABV, a really good buy and widely available. Its notes of citrus and hints of spice work particularly well with warm desserts.
Go to our Cook Page for more ingredients. We do update as we go along, so call back any time. Cin cin!