|A pineapple on its parent plant|
| Ananas comosus|
The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a tropical plant with edible multiple fruit consisting of coalesced berries, also called pineapples, and the most economically significant plant in the Bromeliaceae family.
Pineapples can be consumed fresh, cooked, juiced, or preserved. They are found in a wide array of cuisines. In addition to consumption, the pineapple leaves are used to produce the textile fiber piña in the Philippines, commonly used as the material for the men's barong Tagalog and women's baro't saya formal wear in the country. The fiber is also used as a component for wallpaper and other furnishings.
The word "pineapple" in English was first recorded to describe the reproductive organs of conifer trees (now termed pine cones). When European explorers discovered this tropical fruit in the Americas, they called them "pineapples" (first referenced in 1664, for resemblance to the pine cone).
In the scientific binomial Ananas comosus, ananas, the original name of the fruit, comes from the Tupi word nanas, meaning "excellent fruit", as recorded by André Thevet in 1555, and comosus, "tufted", refers to the stem of the fruit. Other members of the Ananas genus are often called pine, as well, in other languages. In Spanish, pineapples are called piña ("pine cone"), or ananá (ananás) (for example, the piña colada drink).
The pineapple is a herbaceous perennial, which grows to 1.0 to 1.5 m (3.3 to 4.9 ft) tall, although sometimes it can be taller. In appearance, the plant has a short, stocky stem with tough, waxy leaves. When creating its fruit, it usually produces up to 200 flowers, although some large-fruited cultivars can exceed this. Once it flowers, the individual fruits of the flowers join together to create what is commonly referred to as a pineapple. After the first fruit is produced, side shoots (called 'suckers' by commercial growers) are produced in the leaf axils of the main stem. These may be removed for propagation, or left to produce additional fruits on the original plant. Commercially, suckers that appear around the base are cultivated. It has 30 or more long, narrow, fleshy, trough-shaped leaves with sharp spines along the margins that are 30 to 100 cm (1.0 to 3.3 ft) long, surrounding a thick stem. In the first year of growth, the axis lengthens and thickens, bearing numerous leaves in close spirals. After 12 to 20 months, the stem grows into a spike-like inflorescence up to 15 cm (6 in) long with over 100 spirally arranged, trimerous flowers, each subtended by a bract. Flower colors vary, depending on variety, from lavender, through light purple to red.
The ovaries develop into berries, which coalesce into a large, compact, multiple accessory fruit. The fruit of a pineapple is arranged in two interlocking helices, eight in one direction, 13 in the other, each being a Fibonacci number.
Seed formation needs pollination, but the presence of seeds harms the quality of the fruit. In Hawaii, where pineapple is cultivated on an agricultural scale, importation of hummingbirds is prohibited for this reason. Certain bat-pollinated wild pineapples open their flowers only at night.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||209 kJ (50 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||1.4 g|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
The flesh and juice of the pineapple are used in cuisines around the world. In many tropical countries, pineapple is prepared and sold on roadsides as a snack. It is sold whole or in halves with a stick inserted. Whole, cored slices with a cherry in the middle are a common garnish on hams in the West. Chunks of pineapple are used in desserts such as fruit salad, as well as in some savory dishes, including pizza toppings, or as a grilled ring on a hamburger. Crushed pineapple is used in yogurt, jam, sweets, and ice cream. The juice of the pineapple is served as a beverage, and it is also the main ingredient in cocktails such as the piña colada and in the drink tepache.
In a 100-gram serving, raw pineapple is an excellent source of manganese (44% Daily Value [DV]) and vitamin C (58% DV), but otherwise contains no essential nutrients in significant content (see table).
Present in all parts of the pineapple plant, bromelain is a mixture of proteolytic enzymes. Bromelain is under preliminary research for a variety of clinical disorders, but to date has not been adequately defined for its effects in the human body. Bromelain may be unsafe for some users, such as in pregnancy, allergies, or anticoagulation therapy.
If having sufficient bromelain content, raw pineapple juice may be useful as a meat marinade and tenderizer. Although pineapple enzymes can interfere with the preparation of some foods or manufactured products, such as gelatin-based desserts or gel capsules, their proteolytic activity responsible for such properties may be degraded during cooking and canning. The quantity of bromelain in a typical serving of pineapple fruit is probably not significant, but specific extraction can yield sufficient quantities for domestic and industrial processing.
The bromelain content of raw pineapple is responsible for the sore mouth feeling often experienced when eating it, due to the enzymes breaking down the proteins of sensitive tissues in the mouth. Also, raphides, needle-shaped crystals of calcium oxalate that occur in pineapple fruits and leaves, likely cause microabrasions, contributing to mouth discomfort.
The plant is indigenous to South America and is said to originate from the area between southern Brazil and Paraguay; however, little is known about the origin of the domesticated pineapple (Pickersgill, 1976). M.S. Bertoni (1919) considered the Paraná–Paraguay River drainages to be the place of origin of A. comosus. The natives of southern Brazil and Paraguay spread the pineapple throughout South America, and it eventually reached the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico, where it was cultivated by the Mayas and the Aztecs. Columbus encountered the pineapple in 1493 on the leeward island of Guadeloupe. He called it piña de Indes, meaning "pine of the Indians", and brought it back with him to Spain, thus making the pineapple the first bromeliad to be introduced by humans outside of the New World. The Spanish introduced it into the Philippines, Hawaii (introduced in the early 19th century, first commercial plantation 1886), Zimbabwe, and Guam. The fruit is said to have been first introduced in Hawaii when a Spanish ship brought it there in the 1500s. The Portuguese took the fruit from Brazil and introduced it into India by 1550.
The pineapple was brought to northern Europe by the Dutch from their colony in Surinam. The first pineapple to be successfully cultivated in Europe, is said to have been grown by Pieter de la Court at Meerburg in 1658. In England, a huge "pineapple stove" needed to grow the plants had been built at the Chelsea Physic Garden in 1723. In France, King Louis XV was presented with a pineapple that had been grown at Versailles in 1733. Catherine the Great ate pineapples grown on her own estates before her death in 1796. Because of the expense of direct import and the enormous cost in equipment and labour required to grow them in a temperate climate, using hothouses called "pineries", pineapples soon became a symbol of wealth. They were initially used mainly for display at dinner parties, rather than being eaten, and were used again and again until they began to rot. By the second half of the 18th century, the production of the fruit on British estates had become the subject of great rivalry between wealthy aristocrats. John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore built a hothouse on his estate surmounted by a huge stone cupola 14 metres tall in the shape of the fruit; it is known as the Dunmore Pineapple.
John Kidwell is credited with the introduction of the pineapple industry to Hawaii; large-scale pineapple cultivation by US companies began in the early 1900s. Among the most famous and influential pineapple industrialists was James Dole, who moved to Hawaii in 1899 and started a pineapple plantation in 1900. The companies Dole and Del Monte began growing pineapples on the island of Oahu in 1901 and 1917, respectively. Dole's pineapple company began with the acquisition of 60 acres (24 ha) of land in 1901, and grew into a major company, the Dole Food Company. Maui Pineapple Company began pineapple cultivation on the island of Maui in 1909.
In the US, in 1986, the Pineapple Research Institute was dissolved and its assets divided between Del Monte and Maui Land and Pineapple. Del Monte took cultivar '73–114', dubbed 'MD-2', to its plantations in Costa Rica, found it to be well-suited to growing there, and launched it publicly in 1996 as 'Gold Extra Sweet', while Del Monte also began marketing '73–50', dubbed 'CO-2', as 'Del Monte Gold'.
Dole ceased its cannery operations in Honolulu in 1991, and in 2008, Del Monte terminated its pineapple-growing operations in Hawaii. In 2009, the Maui Pineapple Company reduced its operations to supply pineapples only locally on Maui, and by 2013, only the Dole Plantation on Oahu grew pineapples in a volume of about 0.1% of the world's production.
Production and cultivation
|Pineapple production – 2013|
|Country||Production (millions of tonnes)|
|Costa Rica|| |
| || |
In 2013, world production was 24.8 million tonnes, with the top-five countries producing half of this total, led by Costa Rica (table).
In commercial farming, flowering can be induced artificially, and the early harvesting of the main fruit can encourage the development of a second crop of smaller fruits. Once removed during cleaning, the top of the pineapple can be planted in soil and a new plant will grow. Slips and suckers are planted commercially.
Ethical and environmental concerns
Three-quarters of the pineapples sold in Europe are grown in Costa Rica, where pineapple production is highly industrialised. Growers typically use 20 kg (44 lb) of pesticides per hectare in each growing cycle, a process that may affect soil quality and biodiversity. The pesticides – organophosphates, organochlorines, and hormone disruptors – have the potential to affect workers' health and can contaminate local drinking water supplies. Many of these chemicals have potential to be carcinogens, and may be related to birth defects.
Because of commercial pressures, many pineapple workers – 60% of whom are Nicaraguan – in Costa Rica are paid low wages. European supermarkets' price-reduction policies have lowered growers' incomes. One major pineapple producer contests these claims.
Many cultivars are known. The leaves of the commonly grown "smooth cayenne" are smooth and it is the most commonly grown worldwide. Many cultivars have become distributed from its origins in Paraguay and the southern part of Brazil, and later improved stocks were introduced into the Americas, the Azores, Africa, India, Malaysia and Australia. Varieties include:
- 'Hilo' is a compact, 1.0– to 1.5-kg (2– to 3-lb) Hawaiian variant of smooth cayenne; the fruit is more cylindrical and produces many suckers, but no slips.
- 'Kona sugarloaf', at : 2.5 to 3.0 kg (5–6 lb), has white flesh with no woodiness in the center, is cylindrical in shape, and has a high sugar content but no acid; it has an unusually sweet fruit.
- 'Natal queen', at 1.0 to 1.5 kg (2 to 3 lb), has golden yellow flesh, crisp texture, and delicate mild flavor; well-adapted to fresh consumption, it keeps well after ripening. It has spiny leaves, and is grown in Australia, Malaysia, and South Africa.
- 'Pernambuco' ('eleuthera') weighs 1–2 kg (2–4 lb), and has pale yellow to white flesh. It is sweet, melting in texture, and excellent for eating fresh; it is poorly adapted for shipping, has spiny leaves, and is grown in Latin America.
- 'Red Spanish', at 1–2 kg (2–4 lb), has pale yellow flesh with a pleasant aroma, is squarish in shape, and well-adapted for shipping as fresh fruit to distant markets; it has spiny leaves and is grown in Latin America.
- 'Smooth cayenne', with 2.5– to 3.0-kg (5– to 6-lb), pale yellow- to yellow-fleshed, cylindrical fruit with high sugar and acid content, is well-adapted to canning and processing; its leaves are without spines. It is an ancient cultivar developed by Amerind peoples. Until recently, this was the variety from Hawaii, and the most easily obtainable in US grocery stores, but has been replaced by 'MD-2'. It is one of the ancestors of cultivars '73–114' (also called 'MD-2') and '73-50' (also called 'MD-1' and 'CO-2').
- Some Ananas species are grown as ornamentals for color, novel fruit size, and other aesthetic qualities.
Pests and diseases
Pineapples are subject to a variety of diseases, the most serious of which is wilt disease vectored by mealybugs typically found on the surface of pineapples, but possibly in the closed blossom cups. Other diseases include pink disease, bacterial heart rot, anthracnose, fungal heart rot, root rot, black rot, butt rot, fruitlet core rot, and yellow spot virus. Pink disease is characterized by the fruit developing a brownish to black discoloration when heated during the canning process. The causal agents of pink disease are the bacteria Acetobacter aceti, Gluconobacter oxydans, and Pantoea citrea.
Heart-rot is the most serious disease affecting pineapple plants. The disease is caused by Phytophthora Cinnamoni and P. parasitica, fungi that often affect pineapples grown in wet conditions. Since it is difficult to treat, it is advisable to guard against infection by planting resistant cultivars where these are available; all suckers that are required for propagation should be dipped in a fungicide, since the fungus enters through the wounds.
Storage and transport
Some buyers prefer green fruit, others ripened or off-green. A plant growth regulator, Ethephon, is typically sprayed onto the fruit one week before harvest, developing ethylene, which turns the fruit golden yellow. After cleaning and slicing, a pineapple is typically canned in sugar syrup with added preservative.
Symbolism and cultural history
Mimi Sheller writes: "The pineapple entered European iconography as a symbol of welcome and hospitality, and also eventually found its way into botanical gardens such as the Chelsea Physic Garden, where it was grown in heated pits." The sweet fruit had a "mysterious aura" in the Age of Sail because except for a "small elite with access to glass hothouses," tropical fruits could only be tasted where they were cultivated. Christopher Cumo writes that "The Spanish who followed Columbus delighted in eating pineapple and in writing about it for a European public eager to learn of the flora and fauna of the Americas ... The pineapple was first a luxury because transit from the tropics to Europe was expensive in the age of sail. In this respect, pineapple was much like sugar, a commodity of privilege before it became an item of the masses." Cumo writes that "pineapple was the fruit of colonialism" because the Portuguese, French, Dutch, and British all sought to establish pineapple plantations in the tropics of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Pineapple fruits can contain gallic acid, gentisic acid, syringic acid, vanillin, ferulic acid, sinapic acid, isoferulic acid, o-coumaric acid, protocatechuic acid, tyrosine, syringaldehyde, genistin, taxifolin, 3-hydroxybenzoic acid, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, chlorogenic acid, epicatechin, quercitrin, transmethoxycinnamic acid, kaempferol, myricetin, chavicol, tyramine, p-coumaroylquinic acid and arbutin.
Pineapple leaf detail
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- Pineapple Fruit Facts — information on pineapples from California Rare Fruit Growers.