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...
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?
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.
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!
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...
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