Do you have a passion for pineapple? Make the most of this tropical fruit by preparing it with finesse and using in sweet or savoury recipes.
Fresh pineapple tastes so much better than the tinned chunks of my childhood. The glorious fragrance of a ripe pineapple will fill a room and the juicy golden flesh has a wonderfully refreshing sweet/tart flavour.
If the plume (leaves) looks fresh and vibrant and you can pull out a leaf easily then the pineapple is ripe enough to eat. You should also be able to smell the fragrance. The easiest way to prepare the fruit is to twist off the plume and slice the pineapple across.
Preparing the fruit can be tricky. I've found that the best way of removing the tough outer skin is to slice off the top and base of the fruit and stand it upright on a board. Using a sharp knife cut off the peel in strips, from top to bottom. When all the peel is removed use a sharp knife to remove the spines left in the flesh. Alternatively, cut the fruit in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. I use the shells as unusual containers for sweet dishes such as ice cream, or savoury dishes such as curry. The shells can also be frozen for future use.
A core (the original flower stalk) runs through the centre of the pineapple; sometimes this is tender and can be eaten but it can be quite tough and so needs to be removed. Cut the pineapple in half and cut the core from the centre of the fruit with a small sharp knife; work from one end of the fruit and cut around the core, then turn the pineapple over, work from the other end and push out the core. To make life easier, a special pineapple cutter is available from cookware shops, which peels, cores and slices the fruit, (leaving the shell intact) in one simple operation.
Raw pineapple contains an enzyme which has the effect of tenderising meat and poultry, so if you use the juice in a marinade, be careful not to exceed the marinating time or the protein in the meat will be over tenderised and will have an unpleasant 'grainy' texture. A word of warning - this same enzyme also prevents gelatine setting, so never use raw pineapple or fresh juice in jellies or dishes that contain gelatine. Canned pineapple and pasteurised juice can be used instead as the enzyme is destroyed by heat processing.
And now for some inspiration... 15 of the best pineapple recipes
Something to drink...
Something on the side...
Do you have a favourite way of using fresh pineapple?