Pineapple is a sweet and juicy fruit enjoyed in a variety of dishes. With its tangy and refreshing flavour, pineapple can be paired with a range of ingredients to add a tropical twist to a multitude of sweet or savoury flavour combinations.
What is Pineapple?
Pineapple is a tropical fruit native to South America but is now widely grown in tropical regions worldwide. It is a member of the bromeliad family, which includes over 3,000 species of plants.
Pineapple can be used in cooking in many ways, thanks to its versatility and unique flavour. Here are some ways that pineapple is commonly used in cooking:
Sweet dishes: Pineapple is a popular ingredient in sweet dishes, such as fruit salads, smoothies, and desserts like pineapple upside-down cake or pineapple tart. It can also be used in jams, jellies, and preserves.
Savoury dishes: Pineapple is also popular in savoury dishes, particularly in Asian cuisine. It is often used in stir-fries, curries, and as a topping for pizza, although some would argue that! It can add a sweet and tangy flavour to dishes that would otherwise be too salty or spicy.
Marinades: Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which can help break down meat proteins. As a result, it is often used in marinades for meats like chicken and pork to help make them more tender and flavourful.
Drinks: Pineapple juice is popular in tropical drinks like piña coladas and mai tais. It can also be used in smoothies, fruit juices, and other beverages.
Snacks: Pineapple can be used as a healthy snack on its own or combined with other fruits and nuts. Dried pineapple is also a popular snack that is often used in trail mixes and granola bars.
INTERESTING FACT: Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain, which can break down proteins and is often used as a meat tenderiser.
Eating pineapples have its health benefits as they are rich in vitamin C and manganese, which support a healthy immune system and bone health.
The presence of antioxidants helps lower the risk of health disease. Additionally, the enzyme bromelain found in pineapple may have anti-inflammatory properties and aid digestion.
Its unique flavour and health benefits make it a favourite among chefs and home cooks alike.
There are several types of pineapples, each with its own unique characteristics. Here are some of the most common types:
Smooth Cayenne: This is the most widely grown and commercially available type of pineapple. It has a sweet, juicy flavour and a fibrous texture.
Red Spanish: Red Spanish pineapples have a sweeter and more delicate mild flavour than the Smooth Cayenne variety. It is often smaller in size and has a reddish colour on the outside.
Sugarloaf: This type of pineapple is oblong in shape and has a sweeter, less acidic taste than other varieties. It is often used in desserts and fruit salads.
Queen: This type of pineapple is smaller and more oval in shape than other varieties. It has a sweet flavour and is often used in jams, jellies, and preserves.
MD2: This is a newer variety of pineapple that is known for its high sugar content and low acidity. It has a bright yellow flesh and a sweeter taste than other types of pineapple.
When is Pineapple Season?
In Australia, the peak season for pineapples is from December to March. During this time, you can find the fruit at its freshest and most flavorful, and it is readily available in grocery stores and markets across the country.
However, pineapples are available in Australia year-round due to imports from other countries.
In the Northern Hemisphere, pineapple season varies depending on the location. Mexico and other Central American countries, the peak season for pineapples is from March to June.
Hawaii, which is the only US state that commercially grows pineapples, the peak season is from March to July. In other parts of the world, such as Southeast Asia, pineapples are available year-round due to favourable growing conditions.
However, like in Australia, imports from other countries also make pineapples available in the Northern Hemisphere throughout the year.
What Goes With Pineapple?
Fruits & Vegetables
Apricot, chilli, coconut, ginger, grapefruit, guava, kiwi, lychee, mango, orange, papaya, pear, persimmon, pomegranate, rambutan, strawberry, sweet potato.
Herbs, Nuts, Spices
Basil, blue cheese, cinnamon, coriander, cottage cheese, macadamia, rosemary, sage.
Protein & Others
Caramel, crab, duck, tamarind, wild rice.
What Does Pineapple Taste Like?
Flavour: A ripe pineapple has a sweet and tangy flavour with a slight tartness that can be described as a balance of sweet and acidic.
It has a unique tropical taste that’s refreshing and can be quite intense. The flavour of pineapple can vary depending on the variety, with some types being sweeter than others.
Texture: Pineapple has a firm, juicy flesh that is fibrous and can have a slightly crunchy texture.
The texture can also depend on the ripeness of the pineapple, with a ripe pineapple being softer and more tender than an unripe one. The core of the pineapple is usually tougher and less juicy than the rest of the fruit and is often discarded.
How to Use Pineapple in Salads and Side Dishes?
Pineapple’s natural sweetness and acidity make it a perfect complement to both savoury and sweet dishes and can add a refreshing tropical twist to almost any side or salad recipe.
It also pairs well with savoury ingredients like pork, chicken, and shrimp, adding a touch of sweetness and acidity that can cut through rich and heavy flavours.
Pineapple can be paired with other fruits like coconut, mango, and papaya in sweeter dishes, creating a delicious tropical flavour profile.
We’ve added a few of these flavour pairings to this pineapple salad, and it’s like a tropical holiday on a plate!
Here are some more specific ways to use pineapple in salads and side dishes:
Coleslaw: Add diced pineapple to your coleslaw for a sweet and tangy twist on this classic side dish.
Rice salad: Combine cooked rice, black beans, red onion, cilantro, and diced pineapple for a tasty and colourful side dish.
Salsa: Pineapple salsa can be a delicious topping for grilled chicken or fish. Combine diced pineapple with red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and jalapeno for a sweet and spicy salsa similar to this mango salsa rendition.
Salads and Side Dishes with Pineapple
Grilled sweet pineapple with fresh crunchy cucumber layered with a spicy peanut dressing takes this Asian salad to the next level of deliciousness. It is perfectly refreshing and so easy to make. A wonderful side dish for BBQs, potlucks and summer parties.
Brown Sugar Grilled Pineapple. Now, doesn’t that sound simply glorious? And to complement it with velvety and tangy lemon curd, you’ll have a dessert fruit salad worthy for all your entertaining needs!
No better way to hone in on those succulent summer fruits then creating a pineapple salad that is to die for. Complement it with sweet red papaya, toasted coconut and juicy heirloom tomatoes. What are you waiting for?
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some tips on finding that perfect sweet pineapple.
Look for a pineapple with a golden-yellow colour and fresh green leaves at the top. Avoid pineapples that are primarily green or have brown spots.
Smell the base of the pineapple to make sure it has a sweet and fragrant aroma.
Choose a pineapple that feels firm but not too hard or soft.
The leaves at the top of the pineapple should be green and fresh-looking. The pineapple may be past its prime if it is brown or wilted.
Unlike some fruits, pineapples do not continue to ripen once picked off the tree. Meaning those greener ones at the supermarket aren’t going to get much sweeter.
However, if you want to ripen a pineapple further to soften it or enhance the aroma, you can leave it at room temperature for 3-5 days.
Putting the pineapple in a paper bag with an apple or banana can speed up the ripening process as these fruits release ethylene gas that helps ripen other fruits.
Cutting a pineapple can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but with a few simple steps, it can be easy and quick. Here’s how to cut a pineapple:
Cut off the top and bottom of the pineapple using a sharp knife.
Stand the pineapple upright on one of the flat ends and slice off the skin in a downward motion, following the contours of the fruit.
Once you have removed all the skin, you can see the “eyes” of the pineapple, which are brown, hard circles. To remove them, use a small knife or a pineapple corer to make a diagonal cut around the pineapple, following the pattern of the eyes.
Slice the pineapple into rounds or chunks, depending on your preference.
If there is a hard core in the centre of the pineapple, cut it out by slicing the fruit in half lengthwise and then making a v-shaped cut on either side of the core.
Or to remove the core from each slice or chunk, use a paring knife to make a v-shaped cut along the length of the core, angling the knife slightly inward.
Rinse the pineapple pieces under cold water to remove any remaining bits of skin or eyes.
And that’s it! Your freshly cut pineapple is now ready to enjoy.
More Ingredient Pairing Ideas:
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