Pineapple is a delicious tropical fruit that may take a bit of work to prepare, but it’s entirely worth the effort. Providing the pineapple is perfectly ripe, that is.
A pineapple that isn’t ripe enough can taste sour, bitter, and not nearly as sweet and juicy as the fruit of your dreams.
Technically, as soon as pineapple is harvested it will no longer continue to ripen.
However, if you don’t have the luxury of picking freshly grown pineapple in your own tropical backyard, it’s useful to learn how to ripen pineapple, or a least develop the texture and color more fully.
How do you ripen pineapple? You can ripen a pineapple quickly and evenly by storing it with fruit, such as apples and bananas, which produce the ripening ethylene gas, or by sitting the pineapple upside down, on its crown.
In this article, we’ll explain how long it takes for a pineapple to ripen perfectly and how to achieve the best results at home, regardless of where you live or where it was bought.
We’ll also explain how to choose the best pineapple from your grocery store so that you can enjoy it sooner.
How to Tell if a Pineapple is Ripe
How a pineapple looks isn’t always a good reflection of how ripe it is.
Pineapples are often picked while they’re still green. However, if they’re exposed to ethylene gas, they’ll start to turn yellow even if the flesh inside isn’t actually ripening.
Even if you use the recommended techniques to ripen your pineapple, you’ll eventually discover that ripening a fruit after it’s been cut is never foolproof.
The flavor and texture will not be quite the same as if it was allowed to mature naturally.
There are a few ways to choose a pineapple that will better indicate if it is ripe, sweet, and juicy.
How to Pick a Pineapple
1. Color is one indicator of a ripe pineapple, but it’s not enough to guarantee success.
There are some pineapples that stay green, even when they’re ripe. More commonly, ripe pineapple color is golden, with shades of yellow deepening to orange around the edges of each segment.
The base of your fruit will also likely be a deeper golden color, closer to orange than yellow with less green than the top of the fruit near the crown.
If your pineapple is too orange, however, or turning brown, it’s past ripe and heading towards rotting.
More important than the color of the fruit itself is the color of the leaves in the crown. They should be a rich, fresh green with no brown, dried out leaves.
2. The texture is also a reliable indicator of ripeness.
You don’t want a soft pineapple, as that may be signs of being overripe, bruised, or rotten inside. You want a firm pineapple with just a small amount of give. It shouldn’t be as hard as a rock, but it also shouldn’t feel mushy.
The most trustworthy sign that your pineapple is ripe is a sweet, juicy aroma.
Immature pineapples will have little to no fragrance. However, a ripe pineapple will give off hints of sweetness, especially around the base of the fruit where it was picked.
How to Pick a Sweet Pineapple
A well-ripened pineapple is a sweet pineapple. If it isn’t quite ripe, it will retain a sour, tangy flavor that isn’t terrible, but it’s not the tropical magic a perfectly ripe pineapple should be.
The scent is the most accurate gauge of sweetness. An unripe pineapple won’t smell like much more than a plant.
Similarly, some pineapples can be ripe and will never taste sweet. They won’t have much fragrance either, though you may catch a hint of tang.
One the other extreme, an overripe pineapple, or one that has gone bad, will smell almost sickly, syrupy sweet, or even a little fermented.
A sweet, ready-to-eat pineapple will smell exactly how you want it to taste, sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. It has a clean, bright fragrance that will be easy to detect once you’ve had a bit of experience.
How Long Does It Take A Pineapple To Ripen?
A pineapple growing on a plant can take up to 16 months to ripen.
They should be harvested when they’re fully ripe because as soon as it’s picked it will not get any sweeter nor will it technically ripen any further.
After it’s picked, the fruit will continue to soften, however, and the color will continue to transition from green to yellow to golden and finally to a deep orange that turns to brown as it rots.
Will Pineapple Ripen After Cutting?
In truth, pineapples stop ripening naturally as soon as they’re cut from the plant. They will not technically get any sweeter or riper from that moment on.
There are ways to develop the flavor, texture, and color of pineapple after it’s cut from the plant, however. In fact, most suppliers will do some of the work for you.
Pineapple is almost always is cut from their plant while still green because they have a long way to travel before it sits on the shelf of your favorite grocery store.
They are usually tested for ripeness, however, and all pineapple for sale should be ready and safe to eat, even if still green.
During that time, it will often be “masked” with ethylene gas to encourage it to turn from green to yellow (no one wants to buy a green pineapple, after all). Many fruits produce ethylene gas, including bananas, apples, and pears.
The presence of ethylene gas encourages nearby fruits to ripen, even after they’ve been cut. If pineapple is placed in a bag with any of these fruits it will start to turn from green to yellow, making it more appealing to buy.
This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ripe, however, so you may still have some work to do at home.
Once a pineapple is harvested, it will no longer get any sweeter. But the texture, color, and aroma can be further developed, making the fruit more enjoyable, if not technically sweeter.
Can You Ripen A Pineapple At Home?
Technically, a store-bought pineapple is as ripe as it’s ever going to get. As it ages, however, the texture will become softer and the color of the pineapple will go from green to yellow.
This is very similar to ripening, so for convenience’s sake, that’s how we’ll refer to the process. But just know that this isn’t a fully accurate term.
If you’ve searched for a ripe pineapple and haven’t been able to find one, there is still hope that you’ll be able to enjoy the sweet, tropical fruit by encouraging it to develop more fully at home.
How To Ripen Pineapple Quickly (Method 1)
The most common way to ripen a pineapple, or any other unripe fruit for that matter, is to expose it to fruits that emit ethylene gas.
We’ve already mentioned that this is a common practice in the food industry to help turn green pineapples yellow, but grocery stores don’t want to over-expose the fruit and have it overripen before you get it home.
They won’t let it sit in the gas for any longer than necessary to make it look appealing. At home, however, you can continue the ripening process until you’re happy with the texture and aroma.
Here’s how the process works:
You will need a large paper bag and a whole apple, pear, peach, or banana. These fruits produce an uncommonly high amount of ethylene gas, which is what will help your pineapple to ripen more quickly.
- Place the pineapple and the extra fruit of your choice in the paper bag, side by side. You want to avoid plastic bags which can create condensation if there’s not enough airflow. This is more likely to lead to your fruit rotting than ripening properly.
- Fold the top of the bag over a few times and leave it at room temperature.
- Check on your pineapple after 12 hours. If it’s not ready yet, re-close the bag and check frequently.
As soon as the pineapple is ripened to your liking, as you’ll be able to tell by the sweet smell, remove it from the bag and store it properly. A pineapple that is artificially ripened like this can go from just right to overripe very quickly.
How To Ripen Pineapple Evenly (Method 2)
Pineapples ripen from the base to the crown, and it’s not uncommon to have the bottom of your fruit start to become overripe and mushy before the top is ready to enjoy.
To fix this, you simply want to ripen your fruit upside down. This may seem strange at first, but it makes sense for a few reasons.
First, having your pineapple upside-down also allows the natural sugars to flow more towards the crown, helping it to ripen faster.
It also prevents the sugars and juices from sinking to the bottom of the fruit, collecting and stagnating there until it spoils.
If you’re ripening your pineapple with another fruit in a paper bag, having it upside down also helps the ethylene gas penetrate the area of the pineapple that needs to ripen the most.
Sitting your fruit on its crown can be a tricky business, however.
You don’t want to entirely remove the crown before it’s ripe as it can cause it to spoil more quickly by allowing oxygen, moisture, and bacteria into the fruit through the now-exposed area around the crown.
Instead, you can trim the leaves so that they’re even and form a stiff base for your pineapple.
You may want to use a sharp pair of kitchen scissors for this, and watch your hands carefully. The edges of the leaves can be quite sharp, and they each end with a very pointy tip that will poke you just like a thorn on a rose.
How To Store Pineapple
Once your pineapple is perfectly firm, but not too soft, and a nice golden yellow color, you want to stop it from degrading in quality. At this point, you want to make sure it’s as far away from any ethylene producing fruit as possible.
A perfectly ripe pineapple will stay fresh at room temperature for approximately 3 days. However, once you’ve artificially sped up the process, it may spoil quicker than usual.
Whole pineapples don’t do well in the fridge, but once you’re happy with the quality of your fruit, it’s best to peel and chop it right away, and then store the cut pieces in your fridge.
Place your cut pineapple into an airtight Tupperware container or well-sealed Ziploc bag for up to 1 week.
How to Cut Up a Pineapple
There are many fancy ways to cut a pineapple and you can even pull each segment apart one by one.
The easiest and quickest way to prepare your pineapple, however, is as follows:
- Remove the crown either by twisting it off or cutting off the top 1-2” of the fruit.
- Slice the bottom 1–2” off the pineapple.
- Turn the pineapple upside down, so the end where you cut off the crown is on your cutting board.
- Using a sharp knife, peel your pineapple by following the curve from the top to the bottom, working your way in a circle around the fruit.
- Once peeled, you can slice your pineapple into small segments, sticks, or even rounds, but you will have to remove the core one way or another.
Related Questions About Pineapples
Do Pineapples Grow on Trees?
Pineapples do not grow on trees. They grow on plants of the bromeliad family.
They’re technically succulents that produce edible fruits. They don’t grow from seeds, but rather from plantlets, or suckers, that develops between the leaves of the main mother plant. You might confuse them for a tropical bush.
The fruit grows from the center of the plant where a cluster of flowers fuses together to become the individual segments, or aggregates, of the pineapple. Each plant can only produce one fruit at a time.
The crown of each pineapple has the potential to become the plant from which a new pineapple grows.
Speaking of growing pineapples, while ripeness is usually what we consider to be the deciding factor in how sweet the fruit is, the growing temperature is actually more important.
Pineapples that are grown in colder weather turn out more sour, whereas plants grown in extremely hot temperatures will be extra sweet.
How to Tell If a Pineapple is Bad?
Just as a beautiful, sweet fragrance is a sign of ripeness, the aroma can also be the best way to tell if your pineapple has lived beyond it’s prime.
As it goes bad, the sugars in the fruit will start to ferment. The smell will be extremely sweet, almost sickly so, and may also have the sour smell of a fruit that has become to ferment.
If your pineapple is soft, it may also be bad. It might just have a bruised area, but if the entire fruit is starting to feel mushy, it has either gone bad or it’s well on its way.
Are Pineapples Acidic?
Pineapples are quite acidic. They range from 3 to 4 on the pH scale, which is neutral at 7 and entirely alkaline at 14.
For some people, this can be very aggravating to their stomachs and digestive tracks. If you’re prone to acid reflux, you may want to avoid pineapples.
Citrus fruits are also highly acidic and, because of this, many people also ask, if pineapples citrus fruits. They aren’t. Pineapples are acidic due to ascorbic acid, which is Vitamin C, rather than the citric acid that gives citrus fruits their acidity.
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