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Sep 5, 2010 04:06 AM

Picking Pineapples

I've always had trouble picking ripe pineapples and there's so much conflicting information about how to select one. One of the things I keep on reading is to avoid 'dark and watery eyes' on a pineapple, but I have no idea what this means.

Can somebody explain what that means? I know what the eyes are, but I don't understand how they can be 'watery'. I kinda suspect that one original source said that, and subsequent books and articles copied that phrase even if they didn't understand it.

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  1. i turn them upside down and give 'em the ol' sniff test. if i smell golden goodness and there is a slight give to the skin it's a go. i find under-ripe to be a bigger problem since they are shipped so far to get me in boston.

    1. Color from the bottom up on a pineapple is another key factor in picking one out. You should see a healthy yellowing happening from the bottom to as much as midway up the pineapple skin. The nose test for sweetness is the best method-fragrance doesn't lie. Failing that, and only if you must, a gentle tug to the top leaves is a indicator of ripeness. If the crown tops pull out easily you're in for a ripe pineapple. The eyes on a pineapple are the dimples on the outside of the rough skin. If they appear gooey, moldy or imperfect the pineapple is spoiled and it will taste awful.

      1 Reply
      1. re: HillJ

        I've been using the pulling leaf technique lately. It has worked great for me..

      2. Agree with the sniff test and the color up the pineapple.

        See if the eyes are the same size all over the fruit....if they're smaller by the leaves, it means it had less time on the tree to develop sweetness. Try to find a pineapple that has large eyes all over- that pineapple had the most time to mature.

        6 Replies
        1. re: 4Snisl

          Pineapples don't grow on trees. They're in the bromeliad family, and they grow on the ground. Here in Florida, we just cut the tops from the pineapples, plant them, and grow our own. Very easy to grow! Color and aroma are most important tests for ripeness, I think.

          1. re: somedaysue

            I'm out in Sonoma CA, and I bet they'd grow here too. Growing pineapples sounds pretty awesome. How much do you cut off the top, and do you have to start them in water first?

            1. re: yesplease

              I live in montreal and in the summer we grow some on the roof of our condo building just fine

                1. re: buttertart

                  Yes definitely but they end up 1/2-3/4 of the store size.... but they would probably be bigger if we paid more attention to them.

                  1. re: kpaxonite

                    That's really fun, I would never have thought it possible to grow them (although Montréal in summer is one of the hottest places I've ever been)!

        2. jfood always uses the following three-prong test.

          1 - try to pull a leaf from the top. if it comes out go to step 2, if not return it
          2 - turn upside down and do, as others have stated, smell it. if it smeels sweet it is good.
          3 -last check it to make sure the very bottom is not too soft or else it is starting to go bad.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            That's the best one can do. And if it is oozing any juice from the bottom, it's over the hill. So many are picked so green they rot before they ripen, and they are not cheap. In an area where they grow such an San Blas, Mexico, they are like yellow water balloons while they are ripening, a beautiful sight.

            1. re: jfood

              Pulling a leaf from the top is one of those controversial things I was talking about, where you can find conflicting information about whether or not this works.

              1. re: hobbess

                understood, but so far so good for jfood's 3-prong approach.

            2. I generally go for a clean, unblemished one, still green, but with a hint of yellow (I find that if they have already turned golden , they have sofetened a bit tend to have been bruised, while the greener ones are a bit tougher and more resistant to this.

              One note on pineapple ripening, though. Technically they don't ripen, as climacteric fruit does. Ripening is technically conversion of starches to sugars, and as a result, the fruit becomes sweeter. Once a pineapple is picked, however, it has all the sugar it is ever going to have. That's not to say it won't become sweeter though. Pineapples are high in acid, and the greener ones are the most acidic. However, when you let it sit, and turn from green to gold, with a hint of brown, what is happening is the acids are breaking down, and because the acids are sour, the ratio of sour to sweet moves towards the sweet end of the spectrum. So its important to pick a pineapple that has fully matured "on the vine", and produced all the sugar it is ever going to have, and them being patient while the acid levels drop due to breakdown. I find a week on the counter is about what it takes to allow the conversion, sometimes even a few days more, and corresponding color change to happen. Then, you can put it in the fridge, and hold it for another week or so if necessary