Did you know that pineapples are not actually one single fruit, but a group of flowers all growing together to produce a kind of ‘tube’ of edible flowers?
That’s why they have those ‘eyes’ in them. The eyes are parts of the individual flower. The other interesting fact about pineapples is that there is more sugar at the base of the tube than at the top. If you want to eat the sweetest part, make sure you get the bit that is below the halfway mark.
Pineapples are truly amazing for our health, in fact, one cup of fresh pineapple provides 105% of our daily vitamin C requirements, as well as almost all of the manganese we need. In the same cup you will find 11% of our daily doses of Vitamin B1 and B6 and 9% of the fibre that keeps us clean and clear.
Pineapples were first spotted by Europeans growing in the Caribbean, and when they were taken back to colder climates, this treat became a sign of wealth and privilege. Pineapples were very hard to transport quickly, and they do not do well when stored for a long time. Plus, as early agriculturalists discovered, they need a tropical climate in order to thrive.
For this reason, most westerners born before the turn of the 20th century probably had their first taste of sunshine either covered in sugar, or from a can or tin.
Thankfully these days, transportation techniques and better cultivation means that fresh pineapples are available in stores in most places all year round.
In order to select a good one, you need to pick it up and feel the weight in your hand. Does it feel heavy compared to its size? Then you are good to go. A heavy pineapple is full of juice and is ripe. Also, take hold of one of the spikey leaves protruding from the top and pull. Does it come away easily? Yum, that’s the one you want. Smell also gives it away, a good pineapple doesn’t smell fermented and over ripe, but it also has that distinct sweet and tangy smell that says ‘I am made of sunshine’.
Pineapples are filled with a digestive enzyme, so they can be used to tenderize meat, like kiwi fruit, and they are fantastic for gut flora. Pineapple juice served at breakfast gets all your internal juices flowing as well.
Be careful when you store this fruit, as they spoil easily, but they freeze well, so if you are not sure you can finish all you have, blend them down into pulp or juice to add to drinks later, or just freeze them in chunks for cooking.
One delicious idea is to paint pineapple pieces in honey or maple syrup and grill them on a low heat. Sublime.
However you enjoy this king of fruits, the benefits of this remarkable ‘tube of flowers’ are well worth investigating. And if winter is chilling your bones, a cup of pineapple will remind you that somewhere it is summer.