Pineapples are a great fruit any time of the year, when eaten fresh they are an excellent source of manganese (76% Daily Value in a one US cup serving) and vitamin C (131% DV per cup serving). They are especially seen around the holidays, which is fitting since they derive their name from the pine cone they resemble so much.
Choosing storing and slicing your pineapple:
Choose the largest, plumpest one you can find. It should have a strong color and be slightly soft to the touch, with crisp, dark green leaves. Avoid pineapples that have soft or dark areas on the skin (which is a sign of over-ripeness), or yellow or brown-tipped leaves.
One medium pineapple will yield about three cups of chunks.
A pineapple will never become any riper than it was when harvested, though a fully ripe pineapple can bruise and rot quickly.
The fruit itself is quite perishable and storage of it should be taken seriously. If it is stored at room temperature, it should be used within two days; however, if it is refrigerated, the time span is extended to five to seven days, usually three days before cutting plus three to four more days after cutting.
To slice up your pineapple for consumption use a sharp knife to cut off the base and leaves, then stand the pineapple on one end and shave off strips of skin from top to bottom. To remove the eyes, cut a wedge-shaped groove on either side, taking away as little flesh as possible. To core a pineapple, cut it into quarters after peeling, then stand each one on end and cut downward to remove the core.
Fun facts about pineapples:
You can cut off one side of a pineapple and hollow it out to use as a serving dish. You can put your cut pineapple in it, fruit salad, or anything you like, I have even seen it with chicken salad.
You can grow your own pineapple at home from the top of a shop bought pineapple. The technique can be found here. They say it is very easy, but Shannon and I have yet to successfully get one to root.
The pineapple has served as a symbol of hospitality and warm welcome through the history of the Americas. More on that here.
Pineapples can be used to make one of the easiest and cheeriest holiday cakes around, pineapple upside down cake.
Recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake(From the recipes of Shannon - he makes it almost every year)
Melt half a stick of butter then stir in 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar. This layer goes on the bottom of your cake pan so if you want you can melt the butter in the pan in the oven at 275°F while you slice your pineapple and make your cake batter.
Once you have melted your butter and mixed in the brown sugar, layer the pan with sliced pineapples adding your maraschino cherries in a aesthetically pleasing way.
Then you can pour in your cake mix. Shannon always uses his own recipe for yellow cake and replaces the moisture with about a fourth a cup rum and a fourth a cup pineapple juice.
Bake the cake at 350°F for about 40 minutes or until done, checking with a toothpick for done-ness.
Be careful with your timing when you try to flip it out of the pan. If you don't let it cool enough the topping will slide right off still being a liquid, but if you wait too long it will crystallize onto the pan. Shannon recommends waiting until it is still warm to the touch, but not hot. Use a knife to go around the edges, place your serving tray on top of the cake, and flip it over. Sometimes, despite your best efforts some pineapple will still be stuck to the pan and you will have to carefully scrape it off and touch up the cake.