The Pineapple is Neither Pine nor Apple

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When it comes to tropical fruits, only the banana beats the pineapple in popularity. We often associate the pineapple with Hawaii, and the state is one of the leading producers of the fruit in modern times. But it is native to South America, and it wasn’t until the late 1800s that the fruit was first commercially grown in Hawaii.

What is It?

Contrary to its name, the pineapple is not closely related to the pine or the apple. Each pineapple actually consists of a large cylindrical cluster of berries of the Ananas comosus plant. Each berry is marked by a rough spine or “eye” on the outside of the pineapple. The scaly skin of the pineapple may be green, brown or yellow, and long, bluish green leaves grow from the top.

Health Benefits

The pineapple is an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. It also provides a significant amount of vitamins B1 and B6, copper and folate. These nutrients protect the body against free radicals and aid in energy production. Pineapples are also a good source of fiber.

One of the most unique benefits of the pineapple is its bromelain content. Bromelain has been proven to reduce inflammation, blood clotting and tumor growth. The highest concentrations of bromelain are found in the pineapple’s core and stem, from which they are extracted for use in dietary supplements.

Fun Fact

The word “pineapple” was originally used to describe the cones found on conifer trees. When European explorers were first acquainted with the fruit, they also called it a pineapple due to its resemblance to those cones. The name for the fruit stuck, and the term used for the cones of the conifer was changed to “pine cone.”

Soon after the pineapple was brought back from the New World, it became a coveted commodity in Europe. The rare treat was most often enjoyed by royalty. In colonial America, pineapples were frequently used as centerpieces for fancy dinners. Since they were so rare and expensive, they were often rented and returned once the event was over rather than eaten.

How to Eat

ineapples cease to ripen once they are picked, so always look for fully ripened fruit. A good pineapple should have no bruises, soft spots or darkened eyes. The fruit may be kept at room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerated for up to 5 days.

 

Pineapple Recipes

 

Cranberry Pecan Pineapple Salad

2 cups whole cranberries
2 oranges, peeled
1 cup sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 (3 ounce) package pineapple gelatin
1 1/2 cups pineapple juice, divided

Place the cranberries in a blender. Add the oranges. Blend until chopped fine. Place 1/2 cup of the pineapple juice in a saucepan over low heat. Heat 2 minutes or until just about boiling. Remove the pan of juice from the heat. Place the gelatin in the warm juice and stir to dissolve crystals completely. Pour in the other 1 cup of juice. Place the sugar into the juice mixture and stir until dissolved. Fold in the nuts and chopped fruit. Pour into a mold or a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the gelatin has set.

 

Creamy Vegetable and Pineapple Slaw

1 head of cabbage, shredded
1 stalk of celery, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced in strips
1 large tomato, cut in wedges
1/2 fresh pineapple, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons milk

Place the cabbage in a large bowl. Add the celery, green peppers, tomatoes and pineapple. Toss together well. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper and toss one more time to incorporate. Place yogurt in a mixing bowl. Add the sour cream and stir a couple of times to incorporate. Place the milk into the mixture. Use an electric mixer on low speed to blend together. When finished you should have a heavy cream. Pour enough dressing over the salad to give it a creamy consistency. Allow to set 5 minutes before serving.

 

Oh So Yummy Baked Pineapple

2 cans (8 ounces each) crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups fresh bread cubes
6 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2 quart casserole dish well with cooking spray. Place pineapple, juice and all, into a large mixing bowl. Sir in salt, sugar and flour. Slowly add eggs and stir until all ingredients are mixed together well. Place bread cubes in a separate bowl. Add melted butter and toss to cover well. Gently stir into pineapple mixture. Pour pineapple mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Bake 45 minutes. Serve warm.

 

Papa’s Pineapple Chops

4 pork chops
½ C. flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
4 pineapple slices

Trim fat from chops. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, and pepper. Coat chops with flour mixture. Place chops in a baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Lay a slice of pineapple on each pork chop. Lower heat to 350 degrees F. Return chops to oven for about 15 minutes. Serve with rice and a side salad.

 

Pineapple Pumpkin Drink

1 1/2 cups apple juice
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup fresh pumpkin, peel and cut into small chunks
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Place the apple juice and pineapple juice into the blender. Add the pumpkin chunks to the juice. Blend until beginning to smooth. Pour the honey into the blended mixture. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg on top. Blend until all the ingredients are mixed together. Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate until ready to serve. Best when served chilled.