The other day I was at the grocery store and there was a pile of pineapples at a very good price. I picked one up and thought to myself “what do I know about buying pineapple?” I seemed to remember something about the leaves pulling out—but is that bad or good? I just grabbed one and hoped for the best.
But, now that I’m home, I decided to look it up and share because I figured I’m not the only one in a quandary.
I learned that pineapples do NOT ripen after they are picked. They just get older. So quickly my pineapple went from the counter to inside the refrigerator. The sooner you eat the pineapple the better—for best quality eat within four days to a week of purchase. Once cut, continue to store covered in the refrigerator and eat within two days.
If allowed to fully ripen on the plant a yellowish-orange rind will give you the best fruit quality. Pineapples ripen from the bottom up, so the more yellow as it moves up the body the better. But this doesn’t mean that a green pineapple is bad and many are picked and shipped with green color. Unless you’re standing in a pineapple plantation, having one shipped directly to you from a grower or have a plant in your garden, you’re going to have to trust that the growers picked the pineapple at the appropriate degree of sweetness and ripeness. There is no “season” for pineapples. They are available year round. In general, pineapples from Hawaii are shipped only to the west coast of the continental US and other parts of the country get pineapple from Mexico and Costa Rica.
If there is a pile of pineapple—pick one of the bigger and heavier ones. You just get more for your money.
The best way to tell if you have a good pineapple is that it looks fresh and the leaves are still green. Avoid bruised, mushy skin and soft spots on the body. The base of the pineapple should not be wet or moldy. Does it smell pleasant and sweet? If it smells slightly spoiled or like fermentation or vinegar—avoid that one!
Two slices of pineapple (about 4 ounces) has 50 calories, zero fat, 1 gram sodium and 19 mg of vitamin C which is about 60% the amount needed for one day.
Remember when I thought about the leaves? This tends to be an “old wives tale”. Being able to pull the leaves out of the crown is not a sign of ripeness or quality.
Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University
Best ways to prepare and serve fresh pineapple:
- grilled and warm
- cubed and placed on skewers
- slice and place on salads
- chopped and put on any protein dish
- add to stir fry dishes
- add to salsa
Download Recipe PDF: