Florida Food Fareby Mary King and Mary Jo OswaldFamily & Consumer SciencesUniversity of Florida / IFASSarasota County ExtensionPineappleDescription: The pineapple has served as both a food and a symbol throughoutthe history of the Americas. Originating in Brazil and Paraguay, it grows in all thetropical and warm subtropical areas of the world. The Carib Indians called it"anana" or "excellent fruit" and valued its intense sweetness, making it a staple attheir feasts. Christopher Columbus is believed to have encountered the fruit in1493 at Guadeloupe and introduced it to Europe upon his return. Highly prizedbecause of its delectable flavor and aroma, it was cultivated in hothouses inEurope in the 17 th century. Used by the wealthy to adorn banquet tables, it soonbecame a symbol of elite social standing and hospitality. Pineapple art motifscarried to the New World by the Colonists perpetuated the "friendship" and"welcome" image retained even today.The pineapple or Ananas Comosus is a member of the Bromeliaceae family.Related to Spanish moss which grows on trees, interestingly enough pineapple isthe only plant in this family which bears edible fruit. The plant is a smallherbaceous perennial, with long sword-like leaves arranged in a spiral around ashort stem. The fruit develops from the cone or bud that grows above the leaves.Size of mature fruit varies from 1 to 10 pounds or more. The shape can be ovalto cylindrical and yellowish to orange in color. The surface of the shell is texturedand covered with "eyes", which are pointed at first but as the fruit matures, theysmooth out. The fruit itself consists of many small seedless fruits fused togetheron a central core.Availability: In the tropics, fruit is produced almost continuously throughout theyear. It takes about 18 to 22 months to produce ripe fruit after a pineapple hasbeen planted. In Florida, greatest production occurs during the summer monthsbut fresh pineapple can usually be found year round in the produce section of thesupermarket. Although pineapples grow best where the temperature is warm,extreme high temperatures cause sunburning and cracking of the fruit. Theclimate of Florida is not suited to large scale commercial production ofpineapples. Pineapple can also be purchased canned year round.
Many Florida residents like to grow their own pineapples and all it takes is a freshpineapple or the crown (the top leafy part) and a little patience. Cut or twist offthe crown and trim away any of the fruit that may still be stuck to it. Find a dryshady spot and place the crown upside down for several days to allow the cutend to dry out and prevent rotting. Plant in a porous clay pot or in the groundmaking sure it has good drainage and plenty of light. Place the crown in the soiland firmly press down the soil around the base trying not to get soil into theleaves. Fertilize every two or three months and water once a week. If yourpineapple is in a pot bring it indoors if there is a chance of frost. You should seethe fruit starting to develop after about 18 months. For more information ongrowing pineapples contact the County Extension Office.Nutritional Value: Fresh pineapple is low in calories and fat and contains nocholesterol. 1 cup of diced fresh pineapple, approximately 155 g. contains 75calories, .6 g fat, 1.8 g dietary fiber, 10 mg calcium, and 175 mg potassium. Italso yields 19 g carbohydrate, 23.8 mg vitamin C, 16.4 mcg Folate and 35.6 IUVitamin A.Selection and Storage: A pineapple is ready to eat when harvested. The fruitshell will gradually turn yellow beginning at the base of the fruit. Eventually thefruit will become completely yellow if left standing on the kitchen counter for a fewdays or if left on the plant. The flavor will change slightly also but there will be noincrease in sugars as occurs with some fruit that is allowed to ripen at roomtemperature such as bananas, peaches and pears. When buying a freshpineapple, look for a crown with crisp, fresh-looking leaves and a bright coloredfruit shell, though the fruit shell color is not always a reliable indicator of maturity.The crown of spikes should be small and compact in relation to the size of thefruit. Avoid fruit that is discolored or has soft spots. A fruit that has been on theshelf for a long time will have a shriveled crown with dry leaf tips and a dullyellow shell. Long term refrigeration can also result in some internal browning inthe fruit. Some pineapple experts say that "thumping" is the most reliable way totest a pineapple for ripeness. When thumped, the sound should be that of a firm"snap".A pineapple should be eaten as soon as possible for peak goodness. Store freshpineapple in the refrigerator. It will keep a few days longer if cut away from theshell and stored in airtight containers. Fresh pineapple can also be frozen,canned or dried for longer storage.Preparation and Use: Pineapple is a terrifically versatile fruit. It adds color,flavor and texture to any meal-in any course. It is a refreshing low calorie snackor dessert served by itself or combined with other fruits. Pineapple can be addedto salads, seafood, poultry, beef or pork dishes for a delightful main course. Itcan be used sliced, crushed, cut in chunks or the shell can be cut in half andused as a serving bowl. Alternate pineapple chunks with seafood and vegetableson skewers, and broil or grill for an appetizer or mix with cream cheese for a
efreshing spread. Fresh pineapple is often used in meat marinade to tenderizeand add flavor to meats.A special note on using: Fresh pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme thatbreaks down protein in a manner similar to what happens in digestion. Becauseof this, gelatin, made with fresh pineapple won't set. Canned pineapple may beused, however as the process is deactivated by heat. Cottage cheese, sourcream and other dairy products should be mixed with fresh pineapple just beforeserving. Bromelain is also used for medicinal purposes.Recipes:Pineapple CasseroleGood with dinner or as dessert, hot or cold6 slices whole wheat bread, cubed 1/2 stick butter, melted1/2 cup sugar 2 (8 oz.) cans crushed pineapple, not drained3 eggs beaten 3 tablespoons flourIn a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish, mix eggs, sugar and flour, then add pineapple.Add bread and stir to combine. Pour melted butter over all. Bake one hour at 325degrees F.Tropical Chicken Salad2 cups diced cooked chicken breasts 2 Tablespoons low fat sour cream1 cup mandarin oranges, drained 1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts1/2 cup chopped celery 1 teaspoon coconut extract1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise 2 cups diced fresh or canned pineapple1/2 cup chopped mangoIn a mixing bowl, combine the above ingredients. Mix well and refrigerate. Thiscan be served on salad greens or stuffed into a whole wheat pita bread. Serves 6Pineapple Salsa1 1/2 cups diced fresh pineapple or drained 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantrocanned unsweetened chunks1 tablespoon fresh lime juice1/4 cup red bell pepper chopped very fine 2 1/2 teaspoons minced seeded1/4 cup green bell pepper chopped very fine jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup minced red onion 1/4 teaspoon grated lime peelCombine all ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate. Can be prepared 6hours ahead of time. Excellent with salmon or other fish.Tropical Gazpacho1 (32 oz.) can tomato juice 1/4 cup lime juice1 (20-oz.) can crushed pineapple 1/4 cup lemon juicepacked in its own juice1/4 teaspoon pepper1/2 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and 1/8 teaspoon Tabasco saucecut into large chunks1 tablespoon minced fresh1 cucumber, peeled and seeded parsley or 2 teaspoons1 bell pepper, diced dried parsley1 papaya, peeled and seeded 1/2 tablespoon minced freshmint or 1 teaspoon dried mintBlend the tomato juice, pineapple (including the juice from the can) andcantaloupe. Place in large bowl. Dice the cucumber, pepper and papaya. Addthe diced vegetables and papaya to the large bowl. Stir in the lime and lemonjuices, pepper, Tabasco and herbs.Let the soup rest for 1 hour, in the refrigerator, before serving. Serves 8-10.