The Pineapple – Piña – is a tropical plant with edible multiple fruit consisting of coalesced berries, also called Pineapples. They can be cultivated from a crown cutting of the fruit, possibly flowering in 20–24 months and fruiting in the following six months.
Flower colours vary, depending on variety, from lavender, through light purple to red. The Pineapple is a herbaceous perennial, which grows to 1-1.5mtr. The plant has a short, stocky stem with tough, waxy leaves. Pineapples are subject to a variety of diseases, the most serious of which is wilt disease.
Pineapples can be eaten fresh, cooked, juiced and preserved. Pineapple leaves are used to produce the textile fibre piña in the Philippines. The fibre is also used as a component for wallpaper and other furnishings.
The flesh and juice of the Pineapple are used in cuisines around the world. In many tropical countries, Pineapple is prepared and sold on roadsides as a snack. Chunks of Pineapple are used in desserts such as fruit salad, as well as in some savoury dishes, including pizza toppings and a grilled ring on gammon. Pineapple can be left at room temperature for one or two days before serving which will help it to become softer and more juicy. Pineapple that has been cut up should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Crushed Pineapple is used in yogurt, jam, sweets and ice cream. The juice of the Pineapple is served as a beverage and it is also the main ingredient in cocktails such as the Piña Colada.
Pineapple is an excellent source of Vitamin C and Manganese. It is also a very good source of copper and Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6 and dietary fibre.
The Pineapple plant is indigenous to South America and is said to originate from the area between southern Brazil and Paraguay. It eventually reached the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico, where it was cultivated by the Mayas and the Aztecs and is said to have been first introduced in Hawaii when a Spanish ship brought it there in the 1500s. The first Pineapple to be successfully cultivated in Europe is said to have been grown by Pieter de la Court at Meerburg in 1658.
Because of the expense of direct import and the enormous cost in equipment and labour required to grow Pineapples in a temperate climate, using hothouses called ‘pineries’ soon became a symbol of wealth. Three-quarters of the Pineapples sold in Europe are grown in Costa Rica, where Pineapple production is highly industrialised.