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There’s nothing quite like the tropical, sweet, and tangy flavor of fresh pineapple. When nicely ripe, the fruit is juicy and tender; delicious on its own or used in fruit salads, smoothies, cocktails, chutneys, sauces, stir-fries, and baked goods. Sometimes it even ends up on pizza.
Pineapples are unlike any other piece of produce at the supermarket and can be a challenge to choose and prepare without a little know-how. Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications for Dole Food Company, wants to give you pineapple confidence.
With a few quick tips, you can have freshly cut pineapple any time the mood strikes.
How to pick a pineapple
You’ll find pineapples in the grocery store all year long, but they’re at their best in the spring and summertime, roughly March through August. The fruit is picked almost completely ripe, and only ripens slightly after harvest.
When choosing a pineapple, Goldfield says to look at three characteristics: color, feel, and smell. “Select one that is plump, rich in shell color, and fresh in appearance.” The coloring can depend on the variety of pineapple, but bright, not dull coloring is always a good sign.
Look for deep green crowns (the leaves sticking out of the top) and “avoid fruit that is old looking, dry, or with brown leaves,” says Goldfield. The fruit should give just slightly when you squeeze the sides — not squish like an avocado, but not rock hard, either.
Lastly, give your pineapple a whiff at the base, opposite the crown. “If it smells light and sweet, it will taste sweet too,” explains Goldfield.
A common myth says a pineapple is ripe if it’s easy to pull out a leaf in the center of the crown. “Contrary to popular belief, the ease with which a leaf can be pulled out is not necessarily a sure sign of ripeness,” Goldfield says. Relying on the look, feel, and scent is a better strategy.
Once you bring a pineapple home, plan on eating it within a few days. Store it on your counter until you’re ready to slice and dice. If you need to store it for longer, Goldfield recommends stashing the whole pineapple in your fridge for up to a week.
Does the pull-apart pineapple hack work?
A popular trick for eating pineapple doesn’t require a knife at all. After twisting off the crown, you press on the bottom of a node at the top of the fruit (nodes are the spikey, honeycomb-patterned sections on the side of the pineapple). Press your finger in enough to get a grasp on the section and pull it out with fruit attached. Work your way down and around the fruit, one node at a time.
This method works, but with some big caveats. It works best on a very ripe pineapple, and even then you may end up damaging your thumb. It also makes a big mess. The pull-apart method is best used on small snacking pineapples, more common in Japan, or if you’re stuck on a desert island with no knife in sight.
How to store pineapple
Store cut pineapple in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
Goldfield also recommends freezing pineapple. Once it’s cored and peeled, spread out the pieces of fruit on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for an hour or more. Place the frozen fruit in a zip-top freezer bag and store for up to a year. Frozen pineapple is especially good for blended drinks like smoothies and cocktails, or can be thawed, drained, and used in cooked dishes.
Pineapples may look tough, but they’re easy to cut into spears, chunks, and rings by following a few simple steps. Choose fruit with vibrant colors and a sweet smell, and store any leftovers in the fridge or freeze for longer storage.
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