3/22/2012

Pineapples: Fast Facts

Where did they come from?
Pineapple, a tropical fruit with a sweet flavor and juicy flesh, is native to Central and South America. In 1493, Christopher Columbus discovered pineapples growing on the island of Guadeloupe and brought them back to Queen Isabella of Spain. During the 17th century, pineapples became a very popular fruit throughout Europe and were grown in greenhouses. In the 18th century pineapples were taken to the Hawaiian Islands.

Where do they grow?
Pineapple is grown in many tropical regions around the world but Hawaii is one of the top major producers of this fruit. Some fresh pineapples are imported from Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador and Nicaragua and many of our canned pineapples are imported from the Far East. Pineapple is available year round with peak season ranging from March through July.

How do they grow?
Pineapples are grown from the crowns or tops of other pineapples. It takes a long time to grow a pineapple! The flowering process of a pineapple does not begin until the plant is one year old. After one year, the flower bud, which is small, pink and looks like a pinecone begins to grow until it becomes the pineapple fruit. It takes about 6 months for the plant to produce the fruit. The starch content of the pineapple is stored in the stem of the plant. Just before the fruit ripens, the starch converts to sugar and enters the fruit. Pineapples are harvested when ripe and, therefore ready to eat once they reach the supermarkets. To ensure they are picked at their peak, for ripeness and flavor, the sugar content is tested in the field. After they are picked, pineapples are shipped quickly, arriving to markets within 2 to 3 days.

Are they healthy?
Excellent source of vitamin C
Contains bromelain, an enzyme helping the body's digestive system

How do you pick a good one?

Choose fresh looking ones with deep green leaves that are heavy for their size
Use your nose! A sweet aroma is the best way to pick a good pineapple!
Ones with a label or tag indicating it was jet-shipped from Hawaii
Avoid those that look old or dry, contain bruises, soft spots or brown leaves

**Source: foodservices.brevard.k12.fl.us/Nutritional%20Info/