Growing up in Hawaii in the 60's and 70's, pineapple was one of the big four industries, along with sugar, tourism and the Military. Those days are long gone. In 2008, Del Monte officially exited the pineapple business in Hawaii, ending a pineapple legacy of over 100 years. The now defunct pineapple and sugar industries truly changed the face of the islands and created the rich cultural diversity that defines Hawaii today. Plantation workers from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Portugal and Puerto Rico all came to work the plantations and many stayed to build their lives in the islands.
A very limited amount of pineapple is still grown in the islands. I am a particular fan of Sweet Gold, a low-acid, extra sweet variety produced by Hawaiian Crown. This family-owned business is determined to bring back, full-flavor pineapple to the islands, using sustainable farming methods. You can order online and they will send you a pack of three of the sweetest pineapple you have ever tasted.
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Pineapple is very high in manganese and vitamin C and a is good source of thiamine. There are many health claims for pineapple. Pineapple is a rich source of bromelain, which is said to suppress coughs, loosen mucus, heal bruising, protect against macular degeneration, aid digestion, fight inflammation and reduce arthritis pain.
While pineapple is available in many markets year-round, the best time to buy pineapple is when it is in season from March through June.
How to cut a pineapple
There are two ways:
This is the method I learned when I was a kid. Start by cutting off the top and the bottom of the pineapple. Then, using a sharp knife, remove the skin. When the skin is removed, you will see a series of "brown eyes" that grow in diagonal lines around the fruit. Using a knife, carve out the eyes in a series of long diagonal lines.
I won't lie, this takes a little effort, and can scare people off from purchasing whole pineapples.
For about-$11.30, you can purchase one tool that peels, cores and slices a pineapple in about 2 minutes. These hand-held tools work great, and take no more effort than opening a can. I have handcut pineapple for years, and this tool is the way to go. See how it works:
Of course, a good pineapple is delicious eaten fresh or juiced. Pineapple works well in both sweet and savory dishes. Nothing beats a great pineapple upside down cake or pineapple sherbet. Pineapple also makes a great salsa, acts as a tenderizer when added to marinades, and complements both pork and chicken. Pineapple juice and pineapple chunks are wonderful muddled in a cocktail.
This sounds a little weird, but I learned this trick when I was growing up. Add a sprinkling of salt to your pineapple and it really brings out the sweetness.