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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

 

Pineapple:

The pineapple is native to southern Brazil and Paraguay and spread throughout South America.  Eventually it reached the Caribbean and was discovered by Columbus in 1493 and brought to Europe.  The Spanish introduced the pineapple into the Philippines and Hawaii. John Kidwell is credited with introducing the Pineapple industry to Hawaii.  The pineapple is named for its resemblance to the pine cone.

Today the pineapple ranks second only to the banana as America's favorite tropical fruit.  This member of the bromeliad family is called a multiple fruit.  One pineapple is actually dozens of individual flowers that grow together to form the entire fruit.   Pineapple season runs from March to June, but they are available in the market all year.

When I was in college a friend's father, who had been stationed in Hawaii during W.W.II, used to tell a story about a pineapple.  He and a buddy were frequently on guard duty manning a large anti-aircraft gun.  One day they got to talking to a native who offered to show them how to make a good drink.   The Hawaiian took a pineapple, chopped off the top, and scooped out the insides.  He then filled the hollow pineapple with water and replaced the top with the instructons to taste the water in about three days.   Well,  the soldiers didn't think too much about it.  Then after a few days in the middle of the night they were bored and went looking for the pineapple.  They took a taste and it was indeed very good.  After consuming the contents of the pineapple they were so drunk they managed to set off the gun they were guarding, which launched a full scale response.   When they were finally brought before their commanding officer, his question was if they knew how much money they had cost the government. 

Raw pineapple is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C.   Manganese is a mineral critical to the development of strong bones and connective tissue.  Bromelian found in pineapples helps to break down protein and so the pineapple is considered an aid to digestion. It is also considered an effective anti-inflammatory.  At least a half cup of pineapple a day is said to relieve painful joints common to osteoarthritis.  An old folk remedy for morning sickness is fresh pineapple juice.

The pineapple symbolizes hospitality.  Pineapple shapes are often put in entrance ways.  During Colonial times a fresh pineapple was used as a centerpiece at a festive meal.  The fruit would be served as a dessert at the end of the meal.

Select pineapples that are heavy for their size and free of soft spots, bruises, and darkened "eyes".   The pineapple does not ripen after it is picked. Smell the pineapple for a sweet fuity smell.  The more scales on the pineapple the sweeter and juicier the taste.  Your pineapple can be left at room temperature for one to two days.  This will actually help it become softer and juicier.  After two days you can wrap it in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for three to five days. .

To peel cut off the top and base of the pineapple, so it will stand.    Carefully peel off the skin with a sharp knife, then quarter the pineapple long way and remove the core if you wish.   You can also plant the pineapple's top.  Remove the top with no part of the fruit attached.  Peel off about an inch of the leaves from the base and plant the top in potting soil.

The pineapple can be consumed fresh and cooked, canned, or juiced.  Pineapple is found in various cuisines and is used in desserts, fruit salad, jam, yogurt, ice cream, and candy, and as a complement to meat.

So.......Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.