Do you love pineapple? Learn all about how to ripen a pineapple so that you can enjoy the sweet, tropical taste of this golden fruit every time! Also, get my tips on how to choose the perfect pineapple at the grocery store.
I love pineapple! Fortunately, this former New Yorker now lives in South Florida where we have an abundance of fresh pineapple all year round. I love adding it to smoothies and throwing it on the grill. I even use it in savory dishes like my Fish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa.
Pineapple is packed with vitamins and minerals. One cup of pineapple has only 90 calories. It's an excellent source of Vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system. One cup provides 90% of your daily recommended amount!
Pineapple is also a rich source of manganese and a good source of vitamin B6, both of which support energy metabolism.
- Does your mouth or tongue ever feel irritated or burn after eating pineapple? If so, it's because pineapple contains bromelain, a group of enzymes that break down proteins.
- Bromelain also breaks down the protective mucous on your tongue. But don't worry, the effects are only temporary- your tongue quickly regenerates these cells!
- To help neutralize the effects of bromelain, you can cook the pineapple before eating it or pair it with a dairy product like whipped cream or ice cream. You can also try soaking it in salt water.
- Bromelain also has anti-inflammatory effects and is sold as a supplement to relieve symptoms from conditions like sinusitis and arthritis.
Have you ever brought home a fresh pineapple from the grocery store only to be disappointed when you realize it's not sweet? Not only is unripe pineapple tart, it can also be irritating to your mouth and throat.
Fortunately, I've got a few tips to help you ripen your pineapple to sweet deliciousness. But first, let's talk about how you can choose a perfectly ripe pineapple from the store.
How to Choose a Ripe Pineapple
Next time you're at the grocery store checking out the rows of fresh pineapple, take the guesswork out of it. To choose a ripe pineapple, you'll want to carefully inspect its color, scent, texture, and weight.
1. Look at it
Choose a pineapple that is fresh looking with green leaves. Avoid fruit that looks dry, old, bruised or has brown leaves.
You want a pineapple with a bright yellow color, not one that's completely green. Pineapples change from green to yellow as they ripen from the base up.
Although it's not a hard and fast rule, in general, the more yellow a pineapple's exterior is, the riper it will be. A dark orange color means the pineapple is probably over-ripe.
2. Touch it
Now give your pineapple a squeeze. A ripe pineapple will have a very slightly soft feel when you push on it. You don't want a pineapple that's rock hard. You also don't want a fruit that has a lot of soft spots.
Contrary to popular belief, the ease with which leaves can be pulled out from the pineapple is not a definite sign of ripeness.
Then pick the pineapple up. A heavier, denser pineapple typically means a juicier, riper pineapple.
3. Smell it
Once you've found a pineapple that looks and feels good, give it a sniff. The best place to smell it is at the base. It should smell fragrant and sweet.
If there's no scent, it's probably not ripe. If there's any sour or fermented smell, it's ripened too much- put it back.
Did you know that it takes roughly 2 years from the time a pineapple is planted to the time it's ripe enough to be picked? This long duration is because it takes 200 flowers to develop into one fruit!
How to Ripen a Pineapple
So here's an interesting fact- unlike other fruits, a pineapple won't ripen much once it's been plucked from the tree. So once your pineapple has been picked from the tree, it won't become sweeter.
This is because a pineapple's sugar comes from the starches in the stem of the plant. So once you cut the stem, there’s no way the fruit can produce its own sugar.
However, there are a couple of tips you can follow to soften your pineapple, maximize its juiciness, and make it more pleasant to eat.
Option 1- Leave it out on the counter
If you're not in a rush, then the easiest way to ripen a pineapple is to leave it out on your counter. After 3-5 days, it will start to soften a little and develop some yellow color.
Option 2- Put it in a bag with other fruit
The most reliable way to ripen a pineapple faster is to store it in a bag with other fruit like bananas, apples or tomatoes, which can ripen on their own.
Pineapples have a hard time ripening on their own because they lack sugar once they're picked. However, storing a pineapple with these other fruits can help them along. This is because these fruits release ethylene, a plant hormone that aids in the ripening process.
Place the pineapple in a paper bag along with the other fruit. Fold the top of the bag over a couple of times and leave it out at room temperature for 1-2 days.
Option 3- Store it upside down
Another way to ripen a pineapple is to store it upside down. Simply turn it upside down and place the pineapple on its leaves. You may need to balance it against something so that it doesn't fall over.
Pineapple contain starch at their base. Turning it upside down helps the sugars flow from the base to the rest of the fruit to ripen it faster.
Option 4- Cover it with rice
Burying a pineapple in uncooked rice is another method I've read about for ripening a pineapple. However, I couldn't find much evidence to support this theory.
The rice theoretically acts as a desiccant to dry out the pineapple and help it ripen. It also prevents ethylene gas from escaping and thus helps speed up the ripening process.
I have not personally tested this method but may try it out in the future!
If you cut up your pineapple and it's still not sweet enough to your liking, you can always cook it! Cooking pineapple is an excellent way to caramelize the natural sugars in the fruit and sweeten it.
Not only does cooking sweeten the pineapple, it also breaks down the fibers and softens it. Plus, it neutralizes the bromelain in the fruit, the enzyme that can cause irritation to your tongue and mouth when you eat it.
Expert Tips and FAQs
If you leave a pineapple out on your counter, it will take 3-5 days to ripen. To ripen it faster, place the pineapple in a paper bag with an apple or banana. Fold the top over a couple of times and leave it out at room temperature. The pineapple will ripen in 1-2 days.
Whole uncut pineapple can sit out on your counter at room temperature for 3-5 days. Once pineapple is peeled and cut, store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days. It can also be frozen for 3-6 months.
Pineapple contains bromelain, a mixture of enzymes that break down proteins. This property makes pineapple useful in marinades because it breaks down and tenderizes the proteins in meats. But bromelain also causes a similar reaction in your mouth when you eat it, breaking down the protective mucous that coats your tongue and roof of your mouth. This can make your mouth feel like it's tingling and irritated.
To neutralize the tingling or burning sensation, cook the pineapple before eating it. This will remove most of the enzymes causing the reaction. Another option is to eat the pineapple with a dairy product like whipped cream or ice cream to help neutralize the bromelain. You can also try soaking it in salt water.
Tasty Pineapple Recipes
Now that you know how to ripen and cut a pineapple, try these pineapple recipes!
My Aquafaba Whipped Cream with Grilled Pineapple is a quick and easy vegan dessert that's perfect for summer grilling.
My Fish Tacos with Pineapple Salsa are a family favorite! I grill spiced fish and serve them up in tortillas with a fresh salsa made with grilled pineapple, jalapeños, and cilantro.
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How To Ripen a Pineapple
- brown paper bag
- 1 pineapple
- 1 banana or apple
- Place the pineapple in a paper bag. Add an apple or banana.
- Fold the top of the bag over a couple of times. Leave the bag out at room temperature for 1-2 days until pineapple is ripe.