We're about midway into prime pineapple time. From March to July, when pineapples are at their peak, you'll find beautiful plump pineapples at the market, with a sweet fruity fragrance and a crisp green crown. Pineapples will not ripen once picked, nor will they sweeten once you get them home, so be sure to select your pineapple carefully. While a little brown on the leaves is acceptable, the leaves should not pull out easily. Choose pineapples with a little "give" when pressed, without soft spots, or bruises. Refrigerated, whole pineapples will keep up to three days. If cut, store them in an airtight plastic container or bag for no more than a week. Fresh pineapple can be frozen, with their juice, in a freezer-safe container for up to six months. Fresh pineapple, an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, also contains an enzyme called bromelain, which acts a meat tenderizer by breaking down proteins. The bromelain in fresh pineapple will also prevent gelatin from setting, so if you're planning to use pineapple in a recipe that includes gelatin, be sure to use canned pineapple. (The heat of the canning process destroys bromelain.) Canned pineapple has many uses, but for dramatic effect and taste, there's nothing like a fresh pineapple. Pineapples are easy to cut through and once the shell and core are removed, ready to eat.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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