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 a 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.
The sweet-tart flavor of pineapple works beautifully alongside a wide range of companion flavors and ingredients. Some of our favorites are butter, coconut, rum, vanilla, ginger, mint, tea, cream cheese, almonds, hazelnuts, banana, and white chocolate.
Note: 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.
There are a few ways to tell if a pineapple is ready to eat. Sniff it: A ripe one has a sweet fragrance with no hint of fermentation (if you do detect a fermenty odor, move along to the next pineapple). Squeeze it: If it’s rock hard, it’s probably unripe. If there’s a little bit of give, the pineapple is probably nice and ripe. Always pass on fruit with soft spots. Another clue: A juicy pineapple will feel heavy for its size, but do check to make sure that juice isn’t leaking through the bottom, indicating that the fruit is breaking down. Color isn’t necessarily an indicator of ripeness. Also, 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.
To trim a pineapple
|Using a chef’s knife, slice 1/2 inch off the top and bottom of the pineapple and rest it on a cut end. Slice the rind off in strips, removing as many of the eyes as possible.||With a paring knife, cut around and remove any remaining eyes.||Quarter the pineapple lengthwise, trim the core from each quarter, and slice according to recipe instructions.|
There are a few things to consider when cooking with pineapple. When roasting pineapple taste the fruit first. If it’s especially sweet, you may want to use a bit less sugar. Also, pineapple is quite juicy, so when you’re using fresh chunks in a baking recipe, it’s a good idea to drain them in a strainer and then set them on a few layers of paper towels.
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 best flavor, stash your pineapple in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it. For slightly longer storage, wrap a whole pineapple in plastic and refrigerate it for up to five days.