Fresh pineapple’s tropical aroma and spunky acidity are wonderful winter pick-me-ups. Two common varieties are Golden Ripe and Hawaiian Jet. Golden Ripes should have an overall golden hue; intensely sweet, they’re best for eating plain and in blender drinks. Hawaiian Jets have a greenish cast even when ripe; they’re not as sweet, tend to keep longer, and are best for grilling or using in cooked desserts. Any pineapple worth eating should smell fragrant and feel very heavy for its size, with bright, crisp top leaves. Pass on fruits with soft spots.
For a yummy dessert, macerate pineapple chunks in a simple syrup infused with a cinnamon stick, star anise, and sliced ginger; before serving, toss in grapefruit segments and bananas. Or try grilling skewered chunks or sliced rings. And, of course, there’s always cake—for a delicious version, see Abigail Johnson Dodge’s recipe for Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.
Fresh pineapple is obviously a world apart from canned, but do use canned or cooked in recipes containing gelatin: raw pineapple contains an enzyme that counteracts gelatin’s firming action.