To me, pineapple is the perfect tropical fruit. It may be spiky on the outside, but on the inside is that precious yellow flesh that’s attractive on any plate.
And it’s flavor? Oh, my. Incredibly sweet and juicy! It also has just the right amount of tanginess that cuts through the sweetness beautifully, forming a wonderful combo that’s hard to resist.
If it’s under-ripe though, you get either a boring, bland or excessively tangy flavor. Plus, it will leave an undesirable prickly feeling on your tongue! I’m sure you don’t want that horrible pineapple experience, hence the importance of being able to tell if it’s ripe.
Pineapple has a tough and spiky exterior, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the heavenly juices underneath. Here’s how to tell when your pineapple is ripe.
How to Tell If a Pineapple Is Ripe?
It’s easy, actually. You only need to check a few key things: the look, the feel, the weight, and the smell. Follow these guidelines and I’m sure you’ll end up buying a perfectly sweet pineapple.
You want the exterior to be all yellow – from top to bottom. Not greenish yellow, not greenish gray, just plain yellow.
The more yellow the exterior, the riper it is on the inside – simple. If it’s starting to look a little orange, that means it’s overripe.
Also, don’t think about getting a greenish pineapple, hoping it will ripen in a few days. Once pineapple is harvested, it doesn’t ripen much further.
So if it’s way too green, especially at the base, don’t even consider buying it. You want it to be at least pale yellow.
Check for discoloration on the skin and leaves. If it’s got dark brown stains, walk away.
Like many other fruits, one way to find out if a pineapple is ripe is to gently squeeze the exterior. Be careful though, those leaves are spiky!
The exterior should be just a little bit soft. A ripe pineapple will have some give. If it’s too tough, it’ll be too sour! Avoid rock hard pineapples at all cost.
Last, sniff your pineapple out! The base should have a sweet and fruity scent. If it gives off a funky and fermented odor, like that of alcohol or vinegar, then it’s past its prime.
The weight of your pineapple can actually be a pretty good indicator to help measure ripeness. If the pineapple feels heavy for its size, you’re on the right track!
A heavier pineapple (in comparison to its size) is often a sign that the fruit is juicy, ripe, and ready to eat.
How to Store a Pineapple
Once the pineapple is ripe, store it in the fridge. This will extend their shelf-life for 3 to 5 days. Don’t think about freezing whole pineapples, though! That will just leave you with a hard-rock fruit that’s impossible to cut.
- The best place to store sliced pineapples is also the fridge. It will keep fresh for up to 3 to 4 days there. Leaving them at room temperature will cause the fruit to ferment.. And you don’t want that.
- If you want them to last a bit longer than three days, though, drizzle some lemon or orange juice over the fruit. This will help prevent them from browning.
- Also, be sure to wrap the pineapple in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Or just place them in an airtight container. The goal is to avoid exposure to other food, as it will easily absorb the scent and flavor of nearby foods. You don’t want a chicken-tasting pineapple, do you?
- If you want to store your pineapple for 10 to 12 months, freezing is your best option. Sure, it won’t be as crisp and tasty as it was fresh, but it will still make a good ingredient for cooking.
To freeze, place pineapples slices on a baking tray. Do not let the pieces touch each other, as it will be difficult to break them apart once frozen.
Flash freeze the pineapples for four hours, then transfer them into a freezer bag. Squeeze out any excess air, seal, and freeze.
How Do You Ripen a Pineapple?
As I’ve said, pineapples will not ripen further once it’s been plucked. The thing that’s supplying its sweetness is in the stem. So once you detach the fruit from the stem, that’s it. It won’t sweeten further anymore.
But there are still some ways to “ripen” the fruit if you accidentally purchased an under-ripe one. It won’t make it any sweeter, but at least you’ll get a softer consistency.
- Place the pineapple near fruits containing ethylene, the hormone responsible for ripening fruits. If you expose it to apples, bananas, and tomatoes, the ethylene they release will also cause the pineapple to soften.
- Store it at room temperature for five to seven days. This will speed up the fermentation process. Some also say that putting in a polybag or paper bag works, too!
- Place it upside down, with the leaves at the bottom and the base on top. There might be some sugary starch left at the base, so placing it upside down can help the starch spread downwards!
- Bury it in rice. This helps accelerate the ripening process.
If all else fails, don’t give up! You can still sweeten your pineapple through cooking.
Grill your pineapple to release the fruit’s natural sugars. It will get sweeter as it caramelizes.
No time to grill? Just pop it in the oven! It’s the same concept, but using a different device.
Top it with brown sugar. Whether grilling or roasting the fruit, giving it some sugar will help it sweeten further.
Simmer the pineapple to offset the effects of bromelain. This enzyme is responsible for that prickly feeling in your tongue when eating unripe pineapple.
Place your pineapple slices in a saucepan and pour over some water. When the water boils, lower the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the liquid and serve at room temperature.
Not a cooking technique, but did you know that sprinkling a bit of salt on your pineapple will make it sweeter? This counteracts the acidity of the fruit, bringing out its natural sweetness. Works every time. Try it!