How to Select, Store and Cut Fresh Pineapple

Make the most of fresh pineapple with tips and tricks for selecting beautiful ripe pineapple and learning how to store, cut and enjoy it.

whole fresh pineapple
In North America, you’ll get the freshest, sweetest pineapple from March to July.

Also Read: Grilled Pineapple Power Bowl, How to Grill Pineapple, April Foods & Meal Plan

Common Questions About Fresh Pineapple

Have a question that isn’t covered? Let me know in the comments below.

Fun Facts

Pineapples originated in South America. Today, Costa Rica is the biggest producer of pineapple followed by Brazil.

Ripe pineapples taste very sweet, but surprisingly 100g of pineapple has less sugar than 100g of apple.

Pineapples do not ripen once harvested. They will change colour as they age, but they will not develop any more sweetness once harvested.

A pineapple has about 170 to 190 eyes.

The sweetest, juiciest part of a pineapple is at the bottom. Try setting your pineapple upside down for several hours before cutting to distribute the sweet juiciness.

You can regrow the green tops of pineapple. With loving care, you may even get a blossom that turns into fruit – but it’ll take 3-4 years!

You can find tiny brown/black seeds near the sides of pineapple. They’re barely noticeable and safe to eat. If you want, you can use them to grow pineapple from seed.

honey lime grilled pineapple
You can grill pineapple with or without sugar.

Pineapple is a tropical fruit that grows in hot, humid climates. It originated in South America and is now grown world wide.

Pineapples grow on a low, spiky plant that looks similar to a yucca or agave plant. Pineapple is a member of the bromeliad family, which has thousands of species including air plants and Spanish moss.

One pineapple fruit grows in the center of a plant in its second or third year. In commercial plantations, one plant typically produces 3 pineapples, one per year.

pineapple growing on plant
One pineapple grows on a central stalk on a pineapple plant.

Pineapple is a dense, sweet fruit that is juicy and refreshing. It is sweet with just a little tartness that is a little like citrus. It can be quite hard and tart if underripe.

While it has the word “apple” in it’s name, the texture and flavour are nothing like an apple.

Pineapple is a delicious, nutritious, low calorie fruit with several health benefits. It is particularly high in:

  • Vitamin C
  • B vitamins
  • fiber
  • manganese (important for healthy growth, metabolism & immune system)
  • disease fighting anti-oxidants

Pineapple also contains a very unique enzyme called bromelain. This enzyme provides additional health benefits but does come with some interesting side effects – read more below.

fresh pineapple wedges
Sweet, delicious pineapple wedges, perfect for a picnic.

To get a beautiful sweet fresh pineapple rely on your senses.

SMELL – The best way to judge the ripeness of a pineapple is by smelling its bottom. If you don’t smell anything, the pineapple is not ripe. If you smell the sweet scent of pineapple – it’s ripe. If you smell a sour, fermented smell, it is overripe.

TOUCH – The pineapple should be firm with just a little give when you gently press against it with your finger or thumb. If it is too hard, with no give at all, it is underripe. If it is soft, it is overripe.

WEIGHT – To get the juiciest pineapple, compare one pineapple to another same sized pineapple, the heaviest pineapple will have the most juice.

THE LEAVES/CROWN – Look at the over health and brightness of the crown or the leaves on top of the pineapple. Ideally they should be green with just a hint of yellowing. A dry, yellow/brown crown indicates a pineapple that is old or hasn’t been stored well.

If you can easily pluck a leaf from the center of the crown, it is ripe.

LOOK – Colour is not a great indicator of ripeness for pineapples. Use this only when you see extremely green or yellow/brown pineapple. Ripe pineapple can have some green and some yellow. If a pineapple is extremely dark green it is likely underripe, likewise if it is all yellow and brown, it is likely overripe.

Fresh pineapple have a fairly short shelf life, plan to eat yours fairly soon after buying.

Ideally, store your fresh pineapple on the counter for up to 3 days.

You can store it in the fridge for 5 days, but keep it on the counter for several hours before cutting to get the most juice and sweetest flavour.

Place cut pieces in an airtight container for 5-7 days.

There are several ways to cut a pineapple depending on how you’d like to serve the pineapple and how particular you are about removing all the eyes and the core. The following is my preferred method.

peeling fresh pineapple
The peel of pineapple is not edible, cut it off first.
  1. Cut the top and bottom off the pineapple.
  2. Use a large knife to cut away the peel all around the pineapple. I cut deep enough to remove most of the brown around the eyes.
  3. Use a paring knife or the tip of a vegetable peeler to gouge out any of the spiky eyes that may remain.
  4. Decide how you’d like to cut your pineapple – in slices or wedges.
  5. To cut slices, lay the pineapple on its side and cut 1/2 inch slices. If you’d like, use a pineapple coring tool to remove the core, or use a round cookie cutter or knife to cut out the core on each slice.
  6. To cut wedges, stand the pineapple up vertically and cut into quarters.
  7. To remove the tough core, slice vertically between the core and the tender flesh. You should be able to see where the two meet.
  8. Cut into smaller wedges lengthwise or cut crosswise for thin slices.
  9. To dice, simply cut to desired size.

The core of pineapples is edible and contains the highest concentration of bromelain, but it can be quite tough. You can remove it and compost it or eat it to get all that extra fiber and the benefits of the bromelain. Your choice.

The Spiral Pineapple

Another way to ensure you remove all the tough, spiky bits of the eyes is to follow the spiral lines of eyes with a sharp knife and cut them all out. This will leave you with a spiral pineapple.

spiral cut pineapple
To remove all eyes, follow the natural spiral lines created by the eyes with a paring knife. Your pineapple will have a unique spiral look.

Fresh pineapple is one of the only known food sources of bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme (proteases). These kind of enzymes break down protein in the body or the skin. This can be very beneficial, but it can also have some unique side effects.

THE GOOD – Bromelain is said to help:

  • fight inflammation which reduces risk of disease
  • aid in digestion of high protein foods
  • provide pain relief for people with osteoarthritis
  • reduce swelling, bruising, healing time, and pain after surgery and physical injuries

THE BAD:

Bromelain may impact blood clotting, so anyone on blood thinning medication should limit the amount of pineapple they eat and talk to their medical provider re possible side-effects.

Bromelain interferes with gelatin – so if you’re trying to make Jello with fresh pineapple pieces, your Jello won’t set. Use canned pineapple instead.

THE UNIQUE:

Bromelain is a key ingredient in meat tenderizer thanks to its ability to break down amino acids.

To make use of this benefit, use fresh pineapple juice in marinades to tenderize meats. Just don’t leave the meat in the marinade too long, because it is very effective and may cause meat to fall apart!

Once heated, bromelain is no longer active, so canned pineapple does not have the same effects.

The tingling sensation is from bromelain (see above). Some people are more sensitive to this enzyme than others and they can feel how the bromelain is interacting with the protective mucous in our mouth. In essence, the bromelain is trying to tenderize our mouth! But don’t worry, it won’t succeed. You’d have to eat an obscene amount of pineapple to have any serious impact. The cells in our mouth regenerate so quickly that the tingling sensation is short lived.

To minimize the sensation, cook or grill pineapple or serve it with dairy or another source of protein that the bromelain can work on.

Strange, but true!

Bromelain, the enzyme in fresh pineapple is to blame. It interferes with gelatin, a key ingredient in Jello. Anytime you use fresh pineapple or pineapple juice with gelatin, the thickening power of gelatin is compromised.

You can however, use canned pineapple bits or canned pineapple juice because once pineapple is heated, the bromelain is deactivated.

Yes, pineapple pieces freeze beautifully. Just don’t try to freeze a whole pineapple – that won’t be pretty once it’s thawed.

To freeze, cut pineapple into small chunks. Place on a baking sheet and freeze for two hours. Transfer pieces to an airtight container and enjoy those pineapple pieces within 6-12 months.

PRO TIP: By freezing on a baking sheet first, you’ll have free flowing pieces of pineapple instead of one big lump of frozen pineapple.

frozen pineapple in bowl
Flash freeze on a baking sheet to have free flowing pineapple pieces.

Use frozen pieces as is, without thawing in smoothies or milk shakes.

THAW: To thaw, leave frozen pieces in fridge overnight. Or for rapid thawing, place tightly sealed bag in warm water for 20 minutes.

Yes! Dehydrated pineapple is one of my favourite dehydrated snacks. They’re sweet and chewy, perfect for camping, hiking or just satisfying a sweet craving in the afternoon.

Simply peel, chop and dry using a convection oven or dehydrator.

How to Dehydrate Pineapple

dehydrate pineapple finished
Dehydrated pineapple pieces are sweet, chewy treats.

Here are some ways to enjoy fresh pineapple. Of course you can freeze, can, jam or dehydrate it too if you can’t finish it all.

  • eat as is – simply cut in whatever shape you like
  • use to top salads – like this Grilled Chicken and Fruit Salad
  • dip in Avocado Chocolate Dip
  • add to fruit salad
  • mix with yogurt and granola
  • add to grain or Buddha bowls
  • add to fried rice
  • use in smoothies
  • puree fresh or frozen pineapple for slushy drinks or to make frozen popsicles
  • put on top of breakfast cereal, oatmeal, cream of wheat, pancakes, waffles, French toast
  • grill and enjoy as is or with a honey lime drizzle
  • grill with brown sugar and cinnamon coating
  • grill and place on top of burgers or pulled sandwiches
  • use in stirfries
  • make sweet and sour chicken, pork or meatballs
  • add to salsa or tacos
  • use with baked ham or any grilled meat or fish
  • use with dairy or coconut milk puddings
  • bake a classic upside down pineapple cake or pineapple crisp
  • make jams (great when combined with tart fruit like rhubarb)
  • use to make fancy mocktails or cocktails like this Pina Romero
pina romero drink in glass with garnish
Pineapple with rosemary makes a refreshing summertime beverage.

Ooh, here’s a timeless debate. I’m not touching that with a ten foot pole – to each their own!

Do I eat pizza with pineapple? Yes I do.

Favourite Pineapple Recipes

grilled pineapple on grill
Grilled pineapple with brown sugar and cinnamon. With or without the sugar glaze, pineapple is delicious grilled.

Grilled Pineapple Power Bowl

Grilled Pineapple

Grilled Chicken and Fruit Salad

How to Dehydrate Pineapple

What’s your favourite way to enjoy pineapple?

Let me know if you try it down below in the comments or on Instagram @GetGettyS or on Facebook  @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist.

Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker, frequent media guest and writer dedicated to you become more confident in using and enjoying fresh, whole ingredients. She is the author of several recipe books, frequent media guest, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener. Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this.

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