Nina’s Tips and Techniques: Pineapple

How do I know if a pineapple is ripe?

The best way to know is smell. A ripe pineapple will smell very fragrant and sweet through the skin! The other good way to tell is if you pull on one of the green spikey leaves it should pull out with little to no effort. If they are all in there with iron force it is probably a little young and you could wait a few days before cutting into it.

What’s the best way to peel and cut a pineapple?

Begin by laying the fruit on its side and cutting the bottom off flat and the top off flat. Now you have two flat ends and the green spikes are out of your way. Stand the pineapple up on one flat end. Using your knife remove the skin by cutting down from the top to the bottom, following the arc of the fruit. Some people are very fussy about those little brown eyes that are sometimes left behind. If you don’t want those you can trim them lower or use the end of a vegetable peeler (the thing that scoops the eyes out of potatoes) to dig them out. Cut the fruit square off the core and slice or dice as desired. If you want perfect rings cut the pineapple in discs with the core intact and then use a pineapple corer or small round cookie cutter to remove the thick, woody center.

I always see recipes for grilled pineapple, is this really a thing?

Oh yes! Grilled and roasted fruit can be very pleasing to the pallet. Fruit like Pineapple are very high is sugar. At high temperatures sugar begins to caramelize or brown. Caramelized sugar is an extremely delicious food element! When you roast pineapple and it caramelizes the depth of flavor quadruples and the sweetness intensifies. When you bring a sugar past caramelized and burn or blacken it (like the lines you get on food when it is grilled) it tastes bitter – and while you would not think that bitter is a good thing; bitter can be extremely pleasing when it is paired with sweet. This sweet-bitter combo is classic and is one of the reasons we find Asian cuisine so extremely deliciously balanced.

Recipe – Roasted Pineapple with Honey’d Crème Fraîche and Pine Nuts

1 ripe pineapple; peeled, cored, and sliced
4 Tbsp butter
4 oz crème fraische
1 Tbsp honey
¼ cup toasted pine nuts

In a large cast iron pan melt half of the butter over medium heat. Place pineapple slices flat into the hot butter and let them brown; about 6-7 minutes on each side. Set aside first batch and use second half of butter to brown the second batch of slices. In a small bowl combine the honey and crème fraîche and mix until smooth. Divide pineapple slices onto plates (wonderful alongside a slice of pound cake) top with a dollop of crème fraîche and a sprinkle of pine nuts.