How to Pick, Ripen and Prepare Pineapples
Here’s how to choose a good pineapple at the market, an unusual tip for pineapple ripening and how to prepare pineapples for juicing and other healthy recipes.
How to Select a Pineapple
When you’re looking to pick a good pineapple start with the size a color.
The best pineapples to choose should look quite wide and deeply colored rather than pale. The spiky leaves on top should not be wilted and instead be fresh, firm and green.
Make sure the pineapple feels firm to the touch and have a look at the base to check that there’s some orange color there. This is very important when selecting your pineapple.
It’s fine to ripen pineapples at home for a few days if they are still a bit green midway and at the top, but you always want to see some color near the base or the fruit was probably picked too early.
When hunting for a ripe pineapple an even orange reddish color is a good starting indicator. The pineapple’s smell is actually an even better indicator of ripeness though.
Have a smell of the base of the fruit for that telltale tropical pineapple aroma. If you can’t smell anything it probably still needs a bit of ripening. However, if it smells overripe, sickly sweet or fermented then leave that one at the store and choose another pineapple.
Ripening a Pineapple at Home
One unusual tip for quickly ripening pineapples is to stand them upside down on their leaves. This helps their natural sugars flow down through the core to the pineapple and both speeds up how fast they ripen and prevents fermentation around the base.
I always use this method to ripen my pineapples this way and haven’t had a bad pineapple ever since I started doing it. Pineapples are incredibly good for you but not the cheapest of fruit so you really make sure you’re ripening them properly.
Once you have a fully ripe pineapple, whether straight from the store or you’ve used the pineapple ripening method above, it’s best to store it in the fridge on it’s side to preserve it for eating. Leaving pineapples on the bench to store them will shorten their shelf life considerably.
Pineapple Preparation: How to Cut Pineapples
To cut up and prepare a pineapple for juicing or cooking place it on a large chopping board and get a long and sharp serrated knife. Many people waste a lot of the fruit by cutting too deeply into the pulp and chopping off the top and end too far in.
If the pineapple is solely for juicing, you actually want to cut it carefully to keep as much of it as possible. A bit of the skin isn’t a problem and is actually good for you.
What I like to do is cut off the top and base quite close to where the inner fruit starts. These are generally the parts that contain the most bromelain digestive enzymes.
Now with the top and base removed, have the pineapple standing up on your chopping board and carefully cut down to cut off the skin, following the curve of the fruit, in about inch-wide strips. This is probably narrower than most people are used to, but it does mean you’re keeping more of the pineapple for juicing.
Don’t worry about a few bits of skin left over once you’ve chopped the majority off. It really doesn’t matter and won’t affect the taste of the finished pineapple juice. In fact, it may even improve it’s significant health benefits as many nutrients are located near the skin in fruit like pineapples.
Now with the pineapple skin removed, turn the pineapple on it’s side and cut down through the center to divide it in half. Next cut these halves in half again, trying to keep a bit of the enzyme rich core in each quarter. A quarter of a large pineapple is usually a good amount to use for juicing per person.
As a final step cut the quarters into strips wide enough to fit through your juicer’s feeder. You can use one of these chopped quarters immediately and keep the remainder in a sealed container in the fridge for several days or much longer in the freezer.
Pick a good pineapple, make sure it’s ripe and ready to use and prepare it like this and you’ll have plenty of extremely healthy pineapple for the great tasting pineapple juicing recipes here.
Photo 1: Rob Bertholf