Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Taste of the Tropics

Pineapples bring a double dose of sweet flavor and bright color to dishes during the last months of cold, gray weather, and the best crop is just beginning to arrive at area markets.

pineappleThe sweet flavor and tropical scent of fresh pineapple are the perfect antidote to the end of a long, cold winter. And now is the time to enjoy it—although the fruit can usually be found year-round, the best season for pineapple is March through June. Eating fresh pineapple isn’t an everyday affair for most of us in cold climates. The fruit is not inexpensive (partly because it’s imported from so far away) and requires a battle with a crown of sharp leaves, scaly outer skin and fibrous inner core.

But there are many reasons, and many recipes, that make pineapple a tempting proposition. Baking with pineapple is rewarding: Pineapple upside-down cake is a well-loved dessert that plays up the fruit’s subtle flavor components of vanilla and caramel. Yet pineapple is equally delicious in savory recipes, especially when its sweetness is balanced by spicy and sour flavors (try our recipe for pineapple salsa, below).

What’s known about the history of pineapples points to the fact that they were adored, transported and transplanted by all who tried them: Although they originated in Brazil, they spread throughout much of Central and South America long before Columbus found them on the island of Guadalupe in 1493. Our name for the fruit is descended from the word piña (pine cone), which the Spanish explorers used to describe its appearance. As the pineapple arrived on new shores, it continued to gain popularity, and during the 16th century, cultivation began in India, Java and China.

In the colder climates of Europe, the fruit was grown in hothouses and, particularly in Victorian England, viewed as a status symbol. By the 1800s, the American colonists were importing pineapple via the long and arduous route from the Caribbean. It was considered a major accomplishment to have a fresh pineapple to offer guests—which is partly why the exotic fruit became a symbol of hospitality in early America. In subsequent years, the pineapple came to adorn bedposts and tablecloths.

Today, it remains a symbol of warmth and welcome and appears as a common design element everywhere from fabric to furniture. Fortunately, offering fresh pineapple to guests in your home nowadays is an easy proposition—and an indulgence to relish now while the season is at its height.

Super Fruit

What exactly makes pineapple taste so distinctive and delicious? In his excellent book On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, Harold McGee attributes the fruit’s boldness to its balance of very sweet and very tart flavors as well as to its usually rich aroma, which contains fruity esters, sulfur compounds, and hints of vanilla, clove, caramel and sherry. It’s an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese, and a good source of vitamin B1, vitamin B6 and dietary fiber, making the fruit a healthy as well as delicious indulgence.

How to Cut a Pineapple:

* Slice off the top and bottom of the fruit so that it sits level on the cutting board.

* Slice the skin off from top to bottom and cut away any dark spots, or “eyes,” that remain visible on the fruit.

* To make wedges, quarter the peeled fruit, then hold each wedge upright and slice off the core.

* To make rounds, slice the peeled fruit in half crosswise. Remove the tough core using an apple corer or paring knife.

Selecting and Storing Pineapple

Pineapple has reached its full flavor at the time of harvest—unlike other fruit, it doesn’t ripen or sweeten further once picked, although it can soften and become juicier. Choose pineapples with a fragrant sweet smell at the stem end, avoiding those that have a sour or fermented scent. Look for fresh, green leaves in the crown. Pineapples with a very distinct greenish cast at either end are likely underripe, while those with soft, mushy spots are likely overripe.
In general, pineapples do not keep well and should be used soon after purchasing. Whole pineapples can be stored at room temperature for up to two days or in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for three to five days. Use an airtight, nonmetal container stored in the refrigerator for leftover canned pineapple (use within a couple of days) or pineapple juice (use within a week). 


pineapple salsaPineapple Ginger Salsa
(serves six)

Pineapple’s sweetness is balanced by fresh ginger, spicy jalapeño, lime juice and cooling cucumber in this delicious salsa. Serve it with salted corn chips to please a crowd or as a wonderful addition to a dinner of roasted chicken or grilled fish.

In a large bowl, combine the following ingredients:
1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped, to make about 2 cups; 1/2 cup English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped; 1/2 cup red bell pepper, seeded and chopped; 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped; 2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped; 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated (use a Microplane grater for the best results); 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice; 1 tablespoon brown sugar; 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced; 1/16 to 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper; and a pinch of salt.

Allow the salsa to sit at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Highmark Stadium Struggles To Accommodate Music Fans

The Station Square venue could be a good place to see a concert. It's not there yet.

CMU Launches America’s First Degree in Artificial Intelligence

Starting this fall, undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon will have the option to earn a degree in one of the world’s fastest growing fields.

Hog Wild at Fallen Aspen Farm

Owners Jake Kristophel and Desiree Sirois are committed to compassionate animal husbandry at Fallen Aspen Farm.

This is Where ‘Pittsburgh's Paul Bunyan’ Would Have Lived

The living emblem of Pittsburgh steelwork, immortalized in a Braddock statue, has been reborn with a titular space in Bloomfield.

She's Helping Immigrants Make Pittsburgh their Home

An immigrant herself, Ellen Freeman is dedicated to making Pittsburgh more welcoming for foreign nationals.

Steel City Metal: Code Orange Comes Home

Recent Grammy nominees Code Orange bring a working-class attitude to heavy metal.

MultiStories: Gilded Glory – The Keenan Building

The first skyscraper on Liberty Avenue had 17 floors plus a top floor that was the subject of risqué rumors.

Here We Go? Steelers Have More Than a New England Issue This Time

At this time last year the Steelers perceived themselves, and rightfully so, as a team that was a mere win over the Patriots away from returning to the Super Bowl. This year, the focus is elsewhere.

Lorelei Will Open in the Former Livermore/Pines Space

The owners of Independent Brewing Company and Hidden Harbor plan to bring a beer hall and cafe to East Liberty.

New Venue Added to Pittsburgh's Cinema in the Park Series

See what's playing this summer in a Pittsburgh park near you.

The 400-Word Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

The Star Wars series experiments with telling an origin story, with mixed results.

What's a ‘Spark’ and Why Should Pittsburghers Care?

Sparks are relatively young — the concept for them first popped up in San Francisco in 2005. They’ve just recently appeared in other U.S. cities, including our neighbors on the other side of the state.

Third Place on 'American Idol,' First Place in the Steel City

Munhall high school student Gabby Barrett finished in third place last night on ABC’s reboot of “American Idol.”

From Milan to Pittsburgh: These are the Kitchen Concepts of the Future

Local interior designer Lauren Levant traveled to Italy for the influential Salon del Mobile show featuring the latest innovations in the furniture and design industry. With an emphasis on quality over quantity, these are the kitchen concepts she says will be making their way stateside.

Wine Classes Keep the Pre-Wedding Celebration Classy

Palate Partners School of Wine & Spirits offers a chance for brides- and grooms-to-be to explore libations before (or instead of) a night on the town.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


CMU Launches America’s First Degree in Artificial Intelligence

CMU Launches America’s First Degree in Artificial Intelligence

Starting this fall, undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon will have the option to earn a degree in one of the world’s fastest growing fields.

Comments

New Venue Added to Pittsburgh's Cinema in the Park Series

New Venue Added to Pittsburgh's Cinema in the Park Series

See what's playing this summer in a Pittsburgh park near you.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Lorelei Will Open in the Former Livermore/Pines Space

Lorelei Will Open in the Former Livermore/Pines Space

The owners of Independent Brewing Company and Hidden Harbor plan to bring a beer hall and cafe to East Liberty.

Comments

An Inclusive Community Breaks the Ramadan Fast at Salem's Market & Grill

An Inclusive Community Breaks the Ramadan Fast at Salem's Market & Grill

The Strip District restaurant draws a diverse community to its nightly ifṭār buffet.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places to Introduce Children to the Performing Arts

Best Places to Introduce Children to the Performing Arts

When you see a show at one of these organizations, you may enjoy it as much as the children.

Comments

The 4 Best Sports to Try This Spring in Pittsburgh

The 4 Best Sports to Try This Spring in Pittsburgh

Looking to switch up your physical activity now that it finally feels like spring? We found four sports you can play locally that you may never have considered.

Comments


Highmark Stadium Struggles To Accommodate Music Fans

Highmark Stadium Struggles To Accommodate Music Fans

The Station Square venue could be a good place to see a concert. It's not there yet.

Comments

Take a Tricky Trip To Mars at Escape Room 51

Take a Tricky Trip To Mars at Escape Room 51

The new escape room in Pleasant Hills is a great game for newer players.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Here We Go? Steelers Have More Than a New England Issue This Time

Here We Go? Steelers Have More Than a New England Issue This Time

At this time last year the Steelers perceived themselves, and rightfully so, as a team that was a mere win over the Patriots away from returning to the Super Bowl. This year, the focus is elsewhere.

Comments

Surprising Pirates Proving to be an Acquired Taste This Season

Surprising Pirates Proving to be an Acquired Taste This Season

For the time being, at least, fans continue to send owner Bob Nutting a message wrapped in apathy.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

The 400-Word Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

The Star Wars series experiments with telling an origin story, with mixed results.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

The 400-Word Review: Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

The careful documentary is a valuable document of the pontiff's philosophy. As a film, there are issues.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Wine Classes Keep the Pre-Wedding Celebration Classy

Wine Classes Keep the Pre-Wedding Celebration Classy

Palate Partners School of Wine & Spirits offers a chance for brides- and grooms-to-be to explore libations before (or instead of) a night on the town.

Comments

He Recovers from Stroke to Officiate Granddaughter's Wedding

He Recovers from Stroke to Officiate Granddaughter's Wedding

It was always Ashley Watkins’ dream to have her grandfather perform her wedding ceremony — but a serious illness almost got in the way.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
From Milan to Pittsburgh: These are the Kitchen Concepts of the Future

From Milan to Pittsburgh: These are the Kitchen Concepts of the Future

Local interior designer Lauren Levant traveled to Italy for the influential Salon del Mobile show featuring the latest innovations in the furniture and design industry. With an emphasis on quality over quantity, these are the kitchen concepts she says will be making their way stateside.

Comments

Get Creative: Pittsburgh Podcast Inspires 'Girl Bosses'

Get Creative: Pittsburgh Podcast Inspires 'Girl Bosses'

Thinking about starting a creative business but don't know where to start? From photography to interior design, Gamechangers, the new podcast from local textile designer Savannah Hayes, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the design industry from the female perspective.

Comments