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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pining Over My Ananas Comosus

If you spied my tweet this morning, you may have noticed my announcement of the arrival of Pineapple in Hawaii on January 11, 1813. It comes from an excellent source. And before you get all huffy about the title of this post, let me assure you that the Ananas Comosus I long for is a Pineapple; botanically speaking that is. Only mine won't be arriving from Hawaii, mine is growing near a sunny window sill in my house.

Have you ever attempted to grow your own pineapple? Let me tell you from first hand experience, it is not for those who are of an anxious nature. It takes time, lots of time. I planted this Pineapple plant from a store bought pineapple when I permanently moved to Pennsylvania two years ago. Notice it hasn't even begun to flower. It isn't unusual for Pineapple to take it's own sweet time bearing fruit, the Chiquita website says their pineapples take 18 months to grow!

Truth be told, I was a bit impetuous when I planted it. I wanted a remembrance of my move to Pennsylvania and pretty much said to myself, "I know, I'll grow a pineapple ( a symbol of hospitality in many cultures) and when it fruits, I will celebrate the anniversary of my new home in PA. (for those of you who travelled back and forth to New York with me for all those years, I'm sure you understand:) I had no former pineapple growing training but for a gal who runs around with a scissor in her purse clipping and snipping any plant or flower that catches her eye, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to any of you! So after I prepared my store bought Pineapple for devouring, I took it's top and stuck it in some dirt on a sunny window sill. And, that's where she still sits. Oh, I did take her outside during the summer months but since Pineapples are rather tropical, I didn't want to take any chances that she might catch a flu so I brought her in the first sign of a chill.

In colonial times, pineapples were so rare and costly that they were rented to households by the day as centerpieces for entertaining. They were eventually sold for eating.
The pineapple has been a symbol of hospitality since colonial days. Merchants and sea captains returning from the West Indies would present their guests or host with a pineapple as a gesture of friendship...

The Social History of the Pineapple begins somewhere in the Western Hemisphere. The journey is rather tumultuous and best left for the experts. However, I did find an amusing tale about King Louis XIV of France, that I thought you might like. It comes from a book titled The Doctor's Book of Food Remedies by Selene Yeager and the folks at Prevention. (once one of my very best favorite magazines:)

When King Louis XIV of France was first presented with a pineapple--the most exotic and sought after fruit in seventeenth century Europe, he immediately took a huge bite. Unfortunately, His Greediness hadn't given his servants a chance to peel it, so he cut his royal lips on the prickly find. This episode put an end to the royal cultivation of pineapple in France until Louis XV took the throne in 1715.

I also discovered "the healing power" of the pineapple in the same book. Not only are pineapples an excellent source of Vitamin C, they contain a substances that keeps bones strong and another that promotes good digestion. The book refers to Pineapples as "Tropical Champs!" How cool is that? BTW, the bone building ingredient? Manganese! If you're worried about those ol' bones of yours crumbling before their time, I'd dig deep into the Health Benefits of Pineapples if I were you. I am and I did:) My new drink of the morning will now be a Healthy Pineapple Smoothie. (OJ and I just don't agree:)

One of the benefits of pineapple is that it helps to build healthy bones. Pineapples are rich in manganese, a trace mineral that is needed for your body to build bone and connective tissues. Just one cup of pineapple provides 73% of the daily recommended amount of manganese. The benefits of pineapple can effect the growth of bones in young people and the strengthening of bones in older people...(source)

Fresh pineapple also contains Bromelain an enzyme that is similar to the papain found in papayas. Not only does it promote digestion and do a host of other important things, which I would rather stay away from since I'm no expert, it is the bromelain which cooks are actually using as the meat tenderizing agent when they use pineapple or its juice in marinades. I know there are those who are totally aghast at the mention of pineapple and pork but let's just say I'm from the old school. I have used pineapple juice as a rescue aid many a time for tenderizing a poor quality piece of meat. (hey it happens to us all:) And, Marion just adores fresh pineapple slices after a hearty meal. She says they refresh her tummy:) I'm sure they do as Pineapple has been used as a digestive aid for centuries!

Fresh pineapple contains bromelain, a protelytic enzyme that breaks down protein in a manner similar to what happens in digestion. Because of this, gelatin made with fresh pineapple won’t set. Cottage cheese, sour cream and other dairy products should not be mixed with fresh pineapple until just before serving. But, you can use fresh pineapple to great advantage in meat marinade to add a flavor accent and tenderize less tender cuts of meat. (source)

I was quite impressed with these Dried Pineapple Flowers when I happened upon them while searching for an easy pineapple fruit leather recipe to share. (no you don't need actual pineapple flowers to make those gorgeous decorations. Check them out, they are simply lovely:) I didn't have much luck finding a recipe for pineapple fruit leather that didn't make use of a food dehydrator. I did, however, find a recipe for Candied Pineapple at Stef's Cupcake Project. They sure look "purty" too:) While I'm pointing you in the direction of pineapple recipes, don't forget to "Pukka" Up" and head on over to Heather's. Just feast your eyes on her Pukka Pineapple w/ Mint-Sugar! Oh goodness...While you're at it, check out Courtney's Baked Pineapple Upside Down Doughnuts. Ooo, la la...

When I saw these spiral cut pineapples on wiki, I just had to find out How To Make a Pineapple Spiral. It's on YouTube...Way cool...

I suppose it's time for us to return to the saga of my pineapple. Chances are, I won't be harvesting any delectable fruit in the near future. Apparently, I need to coax the flowering process along. My Pineapple looks like this:

When it should be looking more like this. (If you want to see the fascinating growing process be sure and check out this website. in the UK. Amazing!)

I refuse to let that tropical feeling slip away from me. I've been following the directions from Rick's Woodshop Creations for the last 6 or 7 months. Out of all the "How To Grow Pineapples At Home" websites I've come across, Rick's step by step directions are the easiest for me to comprehend:) According to Rick,

...If your pineapple plant is at least 24 inches tall and has not flowered by the time it is twenty to twenty-four months old, you can "force" it with a few different techniques that trick the plant into putting its energy into flowering instead of making new leaves.

I haven't decided which method I will be using yet. And, I'm not sure mine has grown enough so I think I will do another repotting and wait it out a while. I would encourage each and every one of you to try growing your own Pineapple indoors. Although there is mucho patience involved, the plant itself is not very demanding. It needs at least 6 hours of sunlight each day (mine sometimes only gets four:) and it only needs to be watered about once a week. I wouldn't suggest getting the kiddies involved until nearing the flowering stage. However, once their curiosity has been piqued, I'm sure they will want to grow one right from after dessert! How about this one from Easy Entertaining?

Pineapple Daiquiri Sundae
Ingredients:
1 fresh pineapple, cored, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice
zest of 2 limes, cut into strands
1 tablespoon cornstarch
vanilla ice cream
Directions:
Place all ingredients in slow cooker; mix well. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. Serve hot over vanilla ice cream.

In the meantime, I have plans to grow more Pineapple Sage in the garden this year. It may not look as exotic as the fruit, but it sure does perfume the yard when it blooms at the end of the summer and, it's a heck of a lot easier to propagate by rooting stem cuttings. The seeds are difficult to come by so you're better off buying a plant if you can find one. If you're memory is better than mine, you will only need to do this once. I for some reason, forgot to take cuttings from my plant. I will be buying one again!!!

Here are a few suggestions from the that excellent Pineapple Sage article at The Herb Companion.

In the kitchen, fruit salads are enhanced by the fruity, piquant flavor of the fresh flowers and leaves. This flavor is very different from that of garden sage; although there is a sagey element, it’s very subtle, and pineapple sage doesn’t substitute for other culinary sages. The flowers add visual sparkle as well. Even without flowers, a fresh leafy stem of pineapple sage is the perfect garnish for tall summer drinks.

Try mixing the minced leaves and flowers in cream cheese for a delightfully fruity spread, or knead a handful or two of chopped leaves into raisin bread dough. Steeping the leaves in hot apple juice and using the juice to make jelly is an easy way to preserve the pineapple sage flavor. The dried leaves can be brewed for a satisfying winter tea; however, the fruity element is lost in drying.

I truly enjoyed my Pineapple Sage plant when I grew it. Hummingbirds LOVE it too! I could kick myself for not taking cuttings. (I did remember to take cuttings from my Heliotrope last year, thank goodness) You may even be able to see it in one of the pictures. When I do get another Pineapple Sage plant, I plan on doing a post devoted to it and Pineapple Mint so stay tuned:) (I love saying that, lol:) There's also a species of Pineapple Coleus available at some nurseries. I've left the link below for you to explore.

So what do I plan on doing with the sweet fruit of my patience? At this moment, I plan on roasting it. Yes, that's right, I'm going to prepare the Roasted Pineapple recipe provided by Jacques Torres in his Dessert Circus cookbook. Just look at it! I'm not sure I'll show persistence but, I'll try.

Roasted Pineapple
Serves 8 to 10
1 large pineapple
1 cup vanilla sugar (recipe below)
5 vanilla beans

Fill a nonreactive heavy-bottomed saucepan with water and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, peel the pineapple. Here is the technique: Use a serrated knife and cut 3/4 inch from the top and bottom of the pineapple. (Save the top for garnish, if you wish.) Stand the pineapple upright on a cutting board and place the blade of the knife at the top of the pineapple about 1/4 inch in from the skin. With the blade of the knife at a 45-degree angle, cut along the natural curve of the pineapple from top to bottom, slicing off the skin. Repeat this procedure, moving around the pineapple, until all of the skin is removed. Remove as many of the eyes as possible. You want the pineapple to look as clean and neat as possible since it will be presented whole. Roll the peeled pineapple in the vanilla sugar until it is well-coated. Stand the pineapple on end and use the handle of a wooden spoon to pierce 10 holes horizontally through the pineapple, making sure they are evenly spaced from top to bottom. The core of the pineapple is too hard to pierce, so poke the holes just off-center.

Use a sharp knife to slice the vanilla beans in half lengthwise. Insert one vanilla bean half into each hole in the pineapple. The final presentation will look nicer if you push the vanilla beans all the way through the pineapple so both ends are visible. Completely and thoroughly wrap the pineapple in 5 or 6 layers of plastic wrap. You can also use a zippered-top plastic bag, but be sure to remove all the air from the bag before sealing it. Place the wrapped pineapple in the now-boiling water. Reduce the heat to low and allow the pineapple to simmer until it becomes slightly translucent and the color has darkened, about 1 hour. Do not let the water return to a boil.

About 10 minutes before the pineapple is ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. When the pineapple is ready, remove it from the saucepan. Hold the pineapple over an ovenproof nonreactive 4-quart saucepan and remove the plastic wrap, allowing any juice to drip into the pan. Be careful; it is very hot! Place the pineapple in the saucepan and bake until slightly soft and brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Baste it with its own juices every 5 to 10 minutes; this will help keep the pineapple moist.

Remove the saucepan from the oven. Place the roasted pineapple on a platter. (Torres says he usually saves the top of the pineapple and reattaches it with wooden skewers. He serves the pineapple with sorbet or ice cream.)

To make vanilla sugar: place 1 cleaned, used, dried vanilla bean and 2 cups of sugar in a food processor and process on high speed until the vanilla and sugar appear to have the same texture, about 1 minute. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer remove any large pieces. Or place a clean, dried vanilla bean in a container of sugar, seal and store. The sugar will take on the flavor of the vanilla.

In case of an emergency, I can always seek out this simple recipe for Ooey Gooey Pineapple Buns from the Incredibly Easy Silly Snacks cookbook. Not only does it make use of canned pineapple, it's made with refrigerator biscuits!

Ooey-Gooey Pineapple Buns
Ingredients:
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can (8 ounces) pineapple tidbits, drained
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 package refrigerated flaky biscuits (10 biscuits) (12 ounces package)
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Combine brown sugar, maple syrup, butter and vanilla in 11x7-inch baking dish, Sprinkle with pineapple tidbits, pecans, and coconut.
Cut biscuits into quarters; arrange over coconut. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until deep golden brown. Invert onto serving plate; serve warm.
Make 10 servings.

FYI: Pineapples don't ripen much once they are harvested. But here's a trick for you. To maximize the flavor in fresh pineapple, store it upside down at room temperature the night before serving it. This allows the sugars in the bottom half (that's where most of it is anyway:) to circulate more evenly. Try it, it works!!!

Did you know? James Beard had Pineapple Wallpaper! He had huge black and white wallpaper in his cooking school in New York City. Today art prints of pineapples are sometimes hung in restaurants as a homage to James Beard. The Pineapple is also the symbol of the James Beard Foundation

April 20th is Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day. Oooo, that Lucky Pineapple, lol...

Resources
1. The Social History of the Pineapple
2. Pineapple Legend and Lore
3. The Pineapple in Early America (Repast Magazine Summer 2006) PDF file here.
4. How to Select A Fresh Pineapple
5.What is the best method for freezing pineapple?
6. Pineapple: Medicinal Uses and Health Benefits
7. Dehydrating Fruit
8. Pineapple Splash Coleus

26 comments:

  1. Ha! I had some pineapples growing wild in my garden but I removed them because snakes like to live around them and I realy dont need snakes around. we had a dangerous 1 m long viper half in my mother in laws house some weeks ago. I love to eat pineapple but I hate to cut it. my skin always starts to itch horrible. Its for sure a excellent fruit for hot days and very healthy especially home grown. and u r right pineapple is always good for emergency tenderization of meat. I usually love to cook beef in pineapple and I serve it with couscous. I had picked up the idea from some africaans in switzerland. I am intrigued by your roasted pineapple! Sounds delicious and its a nice surprise to serve it to guests.

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  2. This post is so timely for me, as I've been on a pineapple kick the past week...4 different dishes in a matter of days (none posted yet, though). So fun...I never thought of actually trying to grow one here in Northern Indiana...but perhaps I'll try. Thanks, Louise!

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  3. What lovely post, I love pineapple and really enjoy this and your plant look amazing and beauty!! gloria

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  4. That's one of the benefits of having a sister in Hawaii now: wonderful pineapple!

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  5. The symbol of hospitality... we're big fans of the golden fruit. I can't wait to dazzle the Knight with my new information and store it upside down...

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  6. Louise, as ever…what an informative and interesting post.

    I attempted to grow a pineapple once. It gave off a small fruit and I was so excited to have grown it. But I think I picked it too soon as it wasn’t that sweet. A bit disappointing but……just watching one grow and take shape is quite an experience. Love the looks of your plant, very healthy. Love the recipe too!

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  7. Oh, I do love pineapple, but not enough to wait for a couple of years! I'm glad you're trying this out, so I don't have to.

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  8. the spiral cut is awesome! i love pineapple, in both savory and sweet applications. i've heard that fresh-off-the-tree pineapple is not to be beaten, and i'd love to try it one day!

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  9. I love pineapples but have never tried to grow my own! My mum did and it took more than a year if I remember correctly. Roasted pineapple looks great as does the spiral pineapple. I am still unable to peel and core a pineapple properly so usually end up with quite a lot of waste :(

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  10. I love that you're growing a pineapple! You have such patience! The roasted pineapple looks absolutely scrumptious. I bet it would be good baked in a cake after roasting it. Keep us posted on how your pineapple growing is going!

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  11. i dont think i would have the patience to grow pineapples..even faster to see a baby grow rather than seeing pineapples grow!haha! over here, there are abundance of pineapples, many varieties.. all these recipes that you shared here are so interesting, the smoothie sounds nice, so are the roasted pineapples. the next time i have a not so ripe pineapple at home, i'll try putting it upside down .

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  12. Hi Louise, it is interesting to see your pineapple growing indoors! I have a pineapple plant at my backyard, about 5 months old, and yes it does take patience to wait for the fruit! I grew them a number of times before and it takes about 18-20 months from plant to harvest! But it is worth the wait! I have not tried roasted pineapples before, it sounds interesting. The great thing is, we can get pineapple whole year round over here. Hope your plant will flower any day soon! Have a lovely weekend!

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  13. Amazing! I love pineapple and to grow your own, I am speechless. I am loving looking around your blog!

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  14. What a fun post Louise; I do love pineapple and your sure gave us so much information.I did try groing a pineapple many years ago, but I must have lost that patience, because it never looked as nice as your.
    Really want to try making those flowers.
    Rita

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  15. What an amazing post. I didn't know all this pineapple lore. I knew it had something to do with hospitality, but you've gone far and above in increasing my knowledge. And, roasted pineapple? Who would have thought? I don't have any pineapple plants at my house, although now I might consider one inside. I do have pineapple sage, and it does very well in this climate. It blooms all year. Thanks so much for such an awesome post

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  16. This is so interesting! I've never thought of growing my own pineapple, even when I was living in tropical climes!

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  17. Next time we eat pineapple I will have to think about trying to grow a plant. Seems so much kinder than composting the top!

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  18. You have a great green thumb. Would love to venture and grow and a pineapple. Great recipe ideas. Thanks for the link love.

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  19. Oh, gosh, you sound JUST like me with the scissors and snipping and all of that. I have always wanted to grow a pineapple, but really never had the space for it. All things considered, I think yours is quite impressive. Keep us posted on her, ummm, him?

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  20. I am so impressed at your pineapple plant! SO COOL!! This is an amazing and informative post as always! Love it!!

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  21. I read about people having negative reactions to peeling pineapple, Helene. I did mean to mention that Pampered Chef has a very good Pineapple Scorer. Check with Channon! The roasted Pineapple is on my "To Do" list too!

    Well, Heather it seems we're both on pineapple kick these days. That Pineapple Ginger Elixir of yours is most inspiring!

    It is such a graceful plant, Gloria. Although, it does have a few "stickies" on the leaves.

    You are SO lucky, Yummy!

    So, was he impressed, Chan?

    WOW! I'm not the only one who has ever tried to grow a pineapple. I'm thrilled, Tina. I must admit, my patience was wearing thin...Now, I've been recharged!

    We'll see how it goes, Marjie. I must confess though, I've bought quite a few pineapple while waiting for this one to grow!

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  22. Louise, the roasted pineapple is out of this world deliciously looking. I would love to the recipe.

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  23. Although it can be cumbersome to slice up, Grace. Fresh Pineapple is Awesome!!!

    My daughter swears by the Pineapple Corer made by Pampered Chef, baking addict. Check in to it. The Roasted Pineapple is definitely in my "to do" file! I did a bit of pineapple growing research after this post and it seems we have a loooooooong wait!

    I don't know how much patience I have Reeni. It's more like determination! That's a wonderful idea to roast it first and then bake with it. Duly noted...

    Oh that's so funny, Lena. Two babies at different times and still no pineapple, lol...Let us know what happens with the upside down unripe pineapple. I have one standing upside down "as we speak." Happy Chinese New Year to YOU and Yours!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience, kitchen flavours. It's wonderful to know that it isn't unusual for it took take so long. I'll be patient though, I'm sure it will be worth the wait!!! I will be sure to announce when it flowers:)

    Thanks MommyJ I'm delighted you enjoyed your visit. Do I hear a pineapple growing by you???

    Aren't those Pineapple Flowers just amazing, Rita. They would be wonderful for a Spring meal. I hope I remember to try them when my pineapple blooms:)

    So glad you liked it, Janet. I'm surprised to hear you have never grown a pineapple. Your in such a GREAT climate for them I would think. Try it! And yes, Pineapple Sage is such a lovely plant. I like it better than Pineapple Mint which can get a bit unruly at times.

    Try it, Foodycat. But, be patient...

    Next time you enjoy a Pineapple, Inger, think of me, lol...Do try growing it though. It's right up you alley:)

    Sure do. Even more when you grown your own, mr. pineapple man.

    I'm sure you could grow a pineapple on a sunny in chicago, Courtney. And with your schedule, it's perfect. It really requires very little attention. I actually have a pineapple hanging upside down in my blender container right now. It's for tonight's dessert. I may just try to spiral it!!!

    It doesn't take up much space at all, Pattie. And it is such a graceful plant requiring barely any attention. You can't watch it grow by day but then all of a sudden it looks a bit bigger. I'm sharpening my purse scissor for Spring!

    So glad you liked it Tiffanee. I LOVE your Butterfingers Bites! Nifty:)

    I'm contemplating a roasted pineapple to go with that beautiful cod dish of yours Quay Po. We'll see how brave I am:)

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  24. What a great read as alway, Louise, I did a post on pineapple about a year ago, and it was really fun to dig into the history, Of course, I was not as brave as you and attempted to grow one as well. Pineapple is one of my handsdown favorite fruits. What a great reminder. I do love the story about the greedy king.

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  25. So glad you enjoyed it, OysterCulture I'm not sure how brave I am but I certainly am more patient than I though:) Have FUN in Spain!!!

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise

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