Pineapple and Unexpected Ways to Use It

January 11, 2014

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more. 

Today: We’re escaping winter this month -- in our kitchen at least -- and exploring tropical fruits. First up, pineapple.

Pineapple and Unexpected Ways to Use It, from Food52

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The pineapple is a familiar symbol of hospitality; a popular myth links the origin of this connection with Colonial America, when sailors would return from voyages to the Caribbean Islands with pineapples. Allegedly they would display a fresh pineapple outside of their house as a signal that the sailor was home and ready to welcome visitors. The truth of this charming story is debatable, but luckily they’re just as popular with guests nowadays -- and you’re almost guaranteed to have an easier time procuring one than a New England sea captain.

Look for a plump, firm pineapple with fresh green leaves (1, below). Despite what you might have heard, plucking out a leaf isn’t actually a good way to tell if your pineapple is ripe or not -- neither is the exterior color (2, below) of the pineapple. Once a pineapple is picked, it’s as ripe as it’s going to get -- so the exterior color might change from green to yellow if you leave it out on your counter for a few days, but the fruit won’t get any sweeter. Since pineapples are picked when they’re ripe, it’s best to use them fairly quickly -- if you know you won’t get to your pineapple right away, store it in the refrigerator.

More: No need to be intimidated by a spiky exterior. Here’s how to prep your pineapple

Pineapple and Unexpected Ways to Use It, from Food52

Want to grow your own pineapple plant? It’s easy to start. Just twist off the crown (3), let it dry for a few days so the end has a chance to harden, then plant it in a well-draining pot, and wait. Then wait some more. In a few short years, with any luck, your plant will produce a pineapple.

The core (4) and eyes (5) of pineapple are commonly discarded, although they are edible. (Pineapple canneries don’t waste any pineapple parts -- they use the core and the tough skin in a variety of products, including vinegar and alcohol.) However, if you do enjoy gnawing on the fibrous core, take it easy with your intake -- indulge too much and you could get bezoars (think hairballs for humans). We don’t always take the time to remove the eyes, but if you want to, you have a few options for removal. You can take thicker slices off of the sides of the pineapple (downside: you’ll lose more of fruit this way), you can individually dig out the eyes (downside: time-consuming), or you cut them out with with a V-shaped groove, spiraling around the pineapple (downside: your friends will always delegate pineapple prep to you). 

Pineapple and Unexpected Ways to Use It, from Food52

Don’t get us wrong, we love pineapple in piña coladas and in pineapple upside-down cake, but sometimes you need to shake things up:

Try pineapple flambéed with vinegar and pepper or grilled with a smoky avocado vinaigrette. Pineapple doesn’t have to be relegated to fruit salads -- you can pair it with with greens too: avocado and watercress or our beloved kale. Smother tofu or shrimp in spicy pineapple salsa with Palermo pepper. Or, throw it in a slaw topping gingered pork sandwiches.

Try pineapple in sorbet or ice cream. Bake your pineapple into a tart or into cookies with lemon verbena. Take pineapple for a spin in a sweet potato soup, or put pineapple in preserves, and then serve it with cheese and crackers.

What are your favorite ways to use pineapple? Tell us in the comments!

Photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Peter Joseph
    Peter Joseph
  • christy king
    christy king
  • Carol Preibis
    Carol Preibis
  • HalfPint
  • aargersi
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Peter J. March 21, 2019
The cut off skin is not waste in our house. Before hitting the compost pile it takes a trip through a pot of simmering water, sometimes with a cinnamon stick. After 20-30 minutes of cooking, the strained "pineapple water" goes in a carafe in the refrigerator to be consumed as a refreshing drink.
Lindsay-Jean H. March 22, 2019
That's what I do too!
christy K. January 26, 2014
We like it soaked in tequila, brown sugar and jalapeno bits, then grilled.
Carol P. January 26, 2014
Hello Lindsay-Jean, Pieapple is my favorite fruit. I've used it in "6-Ingredient Salad" Like it in slaw, so will try your "Pineapple Slaw" recipe. Love sweet potatotes, so will try your sweet potato soup recipe too. I'd recommend using it in stir-frys, such as "Simply Sensational Stir-Fry"

Will link back to your excellent article in whatever posts I have that use pineapple.
HalfPint January 15, 2014
In addition to bezoars, the fibers from the core can give you micro-cuts in the mouth that hurt like the dickens and you can't really do much other than wait for the cuts to heal.
aargersi January 13, 2014
We had a pineapple on our pineapple plant (grown as instructed above) after 2 longs years ... it was approaching perfect ripeness and much anticipated. And we went out of town for the weekend thinking it would be just perfect when we got back. And the deer ate it.


Lindsay-Jean H. January 13, 2014
Arrggghh. So sad.
tortellini January 13, 2014
My absolute favourite thing is pineapple carpacchio, recipe here:
to get to the english version press the translate button on the right.
Lizthechef January 12, 2014
Living in San Diego since 1974, I have never been able to grow a pineapple - BUT - your directions/instructions are impeccable. I think one has to live in a tropical zone to enable this. I saw pineapple plants at Trader Joe's this week and just shook my head.
Lindsay-Jean H. January 13, 2014
Did you keep it outside year-round, or did you bring it inside in cooler weather? My green thumb seems to be limited to my vegetable garden -- indoor plants never fare as well -- but I'm going to try and break my streak, and keep one alive for a few years to test it out!
Rosabel B. March 21, 2019
A few years back I grew a pineapple plant on the south window of my bedroom..the leaves took up almost all the room, but after 5 years, it produced a fruit, and while it wasn't full grown Hawaiian size, it was sweet and so juicy.
Bree January 12, 2014
Linda - when you say "look for where it's beginning to turn yellow", do you mean look for a pineapple that has some yellow on it or do you mean it should be yellow on the bottom where the sweet juice is located? I've been having a heck of a time finding good pineapples and my toddler loves to eat them. I need to figure this out!
Larry E. January 12, 2014
Working on a construction project in the south, I would bring pineapple sandwiches to work, on white bread, with mayo, and slice of American cheese, and the workers from the North, would exclaim, with much brevity, Pineapple sandwiches??!!
Shalini January 12, 2014
Do you know? In Bengali, we call it Annaroche. In French, Ananas. I would love to grow one!
Panfusine January 12, 2014
pineapple slices were a treat from the vendors outside the school, sprinkled with a pinch of a salt blend (consisting of salt, pepper & toasted cumin powder)
Lindsay-Jean H. January 13, 2014
What a combo, I need to try that!
AntoniaJames January 12, 2014
My mother -- and then I, as a young girl -- used to make something similar to a slab pie using minced pineapple, thickened, between a light crust made with a yeast dough, glazed on top. I wrote the recipe down as a young teenager (before I taught myself how to type on a non-correcting relic of a typewriter). I should pull it out and test/post it. Perfect in the dead of winter -- such a bright, cheerful breakfast pastry. ;o)
Lindsay-Jean H. January 12, 2014
Yes, please do, that sounds great.
AntoniaJames January 13, 2014
I'm quite sure I initially copied the recipe for my mother from the back of a yeast packet. I made it for my sons when they were young, but I didn't care much for the yeast to filling ratio -- a bit too bread-y for my taste -- so I subsequently adapted the crust to make it more like a brioche, and tinkered with the recipe in a few other ways. Now that I think about it, that was quite likely the first yeast dough I ever made. I was still in grammar school, so I must have been 9 or 10 at the time. We didn't get much fresh fruit other than oranges in rural Virginia in the wintertime, so those "pineapple squares", as they were called, were always a treat. I'll definitely follow up when time permits, as this pastry clearly merits a comeback. ;o)
ritagorra January 11, 2014
When I want to see my pineapple disappear, after snacking, adding to salads, cottage cheese etc... I slice into rounds, place on paper towels to dry. Meanwhile I melt dark or semisweet chocolate and spread on top of the rings. The next time I look, they have magically disappeared!
Linda C. January 11, 2014
We had to pleasure of visiting Costa Rica where they grow the Golden Pineapples that are shipped to the US. The owner of the pineapple plantation showed us how to pick the BEST and Ripest Pineapple. First you look for the Pear Shaped Pineapple (smaller at top, larger at the bottom), then look for large uniform eyes and third look for where it is beginning to turn yellow. The sweetest juice will be in the bottom. He stated it had nothing to do with plucking the top, smelling the bottom or pressing the center. I hopes this helps!
anne January 11, 2014
I freeze chunks then put it through my Omega 8500 with the blank. Instant sorbet. Nothing added. Sooo good.
lisina January 12, 2014
I love this idea!! I can't wait to try it.
lisina January 11, 2014
i put a few chunks in my green juice every morning. it cuts through that chlorophyll taste better than any other fruit i've tried.
Ralph January 11, 2014
Great as a meat tenderizer especially in pork chop marinades destined for the grill
Mark_Gu January 11, 2014
Often pineapples are picked too soon to keep them from going bad during shipment. Smell the bottom of a pineapple before buying. Ripe ones will smell like pineapple. Those not ripe won't. Rotten ones will smell rotten. Very basic but it works!
Linda C. January 11, 2014
Actually that is not so according to the Pineapple Grower in Costa Rica who ships to the US. They are called Golden Pineapples and he says you don't judge the pineapple by the smell. Read my comment for all to see on how to pick a ripe pineapple.