There are some fruits that are determined not to be eaten. From the oddly shaped pit of the mango (see How to: Cut a Mango) to the thick skin and pointed leaves of the pineapple, these tropical fruits are as inhospitable as Death Valley in the middle of July. I was always baffled by that skin and those darn eyes that seem to get in the way of the otherwise pristine fruit inside. Should I use a peeler? Should I plunge a knife straight into the center? Maybe I would be better off just throwing the darn thing against the wall – it would just fall open easily, ready to be eaten, right?
Thankfully, I learned that all I needed was a good sharp knife and a little know-how. Lop off the top and bottom of the pineapple, cut off the skin in strips and cut the sweet fruit into rounds for desserts such as Grilled Pineapple with Brown Sugar Rum Sauce or into cubes for a sweet salsa or to top a pizza. Voila, you are ready for your next journey to a tropical desert island (yep, this method works just as well with your trusty machete).
How to Choose a Pineapple:
There are several ways to tell when a pineapple is ready. First, you should be able to smell the distinctive pineapple smell when you put your nose close to the bottom of the fruit. Second, the pineapple should have a small amount of “give” when squeezed gently.
I once learned that you can tell that a pineapple is ready by tugging on one of the inner leaves. If it’s ready, the leaf should pull out easily. However, it seems that this is an old wives tale, so it would be best to stick to the sniff and squeeze methods.
Cutting the Pineapple:
With a sharp chef’s knife cut the top and bottom off of the pineapple. Cutting the bottom allows an even surface so the pineapple rests securely in the next steps.
If you wish, save the top of the pineapple (leaves and all) to use as part of your presentation, particularly if you are serving a large platter of fruit.
The next step is to cut off the skin. Stand the flat bottom of the pineapple on a cutting board. Cutting from top to bottom, remove the skin in strips, cutting deep enough to remove most of the eyes. Continue to turn the pineapple and cut off strips until all of the skin is removed.
Use the tip of a peeler to remove any stubborn eyes (those brown circles).
Cut the pineapple crosswise into rounds of the thickness desired. Using a paring knife, cut around the core in the center of each round. Use your thumbs to pop out the center.
Alternatively, stand the pineapple on its end and cut the fruit off, in strips, from around the core. Chop as desired.
Recipes using pineapple:
Cookin’ Canuck’s Grilled Pineapple with Brown Sugar Rum Sauce
Simply Recipes’ Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Two Peas and Their Pod’s Pineapple Sorbet
Rasa Malaysia’s Pineapple Fried Rice
Cate’s World Kitchen Pineapple-Coconut Cupcakes