by Dabney Gough
from Fine Cooking #115, pp. 51-56
Never mind the beaches, the palm trees, and the tourist trail. When I first visited Honolulu a few years back, I made a beeline for the farmers’ market to check out the local produce. I saw giant piles of pineapples everywhere, some from Oahu, others from neighboring islands. How lucky, I thought, were Hawaiians to count these gorgeous fruits as part of their everyday fare.
Little did I know that I, too, would become one of those lucky folks. I married the man I had come to Honolulu to visit and have lived in paradise ever since. Now, buying a hefty, fragrant pineapple from the Saturday farmers’ market is part of my weekly routine, and I’ve learned a lot about selecting, storing, and using the spiky fruit. The most important thing to know is that pineapples don’t ripen after picking because their starches stop converting to sugar, so finding a fully ripe one is key.
There are two clues to a pineapple’s ripeness: it should be fragrant, especially at its base, and give slightly when squeezed. The brighter and greener the leaves, the fresher the pineapple will be. Don’t worry about rind color or tugging on a leaf to test for ripeness; both are unreliable indicators of maturity and are influenced by variety. A ripe pineapple will keep for up to three days at room temperature.
It may soften and its rind color may change a bit, but its sweetness and flavor will remain the same. For slightly longer storage, wrap a whole pineapple in plastic and refrigerate it for up to five days. Once you do find that perfect pineapple, I have all sorts of ways for you to show off its sweet, tangy juiciness. Try the recipes that follow, and you, too, can give your cooking a little bit of aloha, and read my post How to Prep a Pineapple for tips on removing the pineapple's bumpy rind.
|Thai-Style Pineapple Fried Rice with Shrimp and Cashews||Pineapple, Papaya, Starfruit, and Blood Orange Salad|
|Pineapple and Macadamia Nut Tart||Pineapple-Ginger Brown Sugar Crisp|
|Glazed Pork Loin with Pineapple-Scallion Chutney|
Photos: Scott Phillips