Summary List PlacementThere’s nothing quite like the tropical, sweet, and tangy flavor of fresh pineapple. When nicely ripe, the fruit is juicy and tender; delicious on its own or used in fruit salads, smoothies, cocktails, chutneys, sauces, stir-fries, and baked goods. Sometimes it even ends up on pizza.
Pineapples are unlike any other piece of produce at the supermarket and can be a challenge to choose and prepare without a little know-how. Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications for Dole Food Company, wants to give you pineapple confidence.
With a few quick tips, you can have freshly cut pineapple any time the mood strikes.
How to pick a pineapple
You’ll find pineapples in the grocery store all year long, but they’re at their best in the spring and summertime, roughly March through August. The fruit is picked almost completely ripe, and only ripens slightly after harvest.
When choosing a pineapple, Goldfield says to look at three characteristics: color, feel, and smell. “Select one that is plump, rich in shell color, and fresh in appearance.” The coloring can depend on the variety of pineapple, but bright, not dull coloring is always a good sign.
Look for deep green crowns (the leaves sticking out of the top) and “avoid fruit that is old looking, dry, or with brown leaves,” says Goldfield. The fruit should give just slightly when you squeeze the sides — not squish like an avocado, but not rock hard, either.
Lastly, give your pineapple a whiff at the base, opposite the crown. “If it smells light and sweet, it will taste sweet too,” explains Goldfield.
A common myth says a pineapple is ripe if it’s easy to pull out a leaf in the center of the crown. “Contrary to popular belief, the ease with which a leaf can be pulled out is not necessarily a sure sign of ripeness,” Goldfield says. Relying on the look, feel, and scent is a better strategy.
Once you bring a pineapple home, plan on eating it within a few days. Store it on your counter until you’re ready to slice and dice. If you need to store it for longer, Goldfield recommends stashing the whole pineapple in your fridge for up to a week.
How to cut a pineapple into spears or chunks
There are a few different methods available for cutting a pineapple, but Goldfield favors this simple and straightforward method since it yields the most fruit:
Remove the crown. Grab and twist off the crown or use a knife to slice it off. Discard or use to decorate a platter.
Slice in half. Use a large chef’s knife to slice the fruit in half top to bottom (from crown to base).
Cut into quarters. Slice the halves into four long quarter sections.
Trim and core. Remove the top and bottom ends from the quarters and trim off the tough center core.
Remove the skin. Slice each quarter to make eight spears. Set a spear on its side and use a knife to trim off the shell in sections. A smaller paring knife can be helpful here. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
Chop (or not). Chop the fruit into whatever size you like. You can also leave as spears for easy grilling.
Alternate method: Pineapple rings
If pretty rings are what you’re after, follow these steps:
Trim the top and bottom. Use a chef’s knife to slice off the crown plus the very top of the pineapple. Trim off the bottom end. It should sit upright on a cutting board.
Remove the shell. Working your way around the sides of the fruit, slice off sections of the peel. Cut deeply enough to remove the “eyes,” or the dark impressions in the fruit left by the shell.
Slice. Lay the peeled pineapple on its side and, using your other hand to sturdy it, slice into ½-inch slices.
Core. Use a round cutter or a paring knife to remove the core from each slice, making rings.
Quick tip: For a quicker, less messy way to prep a pineapple, use a coring tool. The only downside: “Because coring tools are a fixed size, you will likely end up leaving good and edible fruit inside the shell, especially in larger pineapples,” explains Goldfield.
Does the pull-apart pineapple hack work?
A popular trick for eating pineapple doesn’t require a knife at all. After twisting off the crown, you press on the bottom of a node at the top of the fruit (nodes are the spikey, honeycomb-patterned sections on the side of the pineapple). Press your finger in enough to get a grasp on the section and pull it out with fruit attached. Work your way down and around the fruit, one node at a time.
This method works, but with some big caveats. It works best on a very ripe pineapple, and even then you may end up damaging your thumb. It also makes a big mess. The pull-apart method is best used on small snacking pineapples, more common in Japan, or if you’re stuck on a desert island with no knife in sight.
How to store pineapple
Store cut pineapple in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
Goldfield also recommends freezing pineapple. Once it’s cored and peeled, spread out the pieces of fruit on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for an hour or more. Place the frozen fruit in a zip-top freezer bag and store for up to a year. Frozen pineapple is especially good for blended drinks like smoothies and cocktails, or can be thawed, drained, and used in cooked dishes.
Pineapples may look tough, but they’re easy to cut into spears, chunks, and rings by following a few simple steps. Choose fruit with vibrant colors and a sweet smell, and store any leftovers in the fridge or freeze for longer storage.
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