Q: Why are some pineapples sold topless?
As far as fresh produce goes, I have always considered pineapples to be relatively straightforward (despite the ongoing debate as to whether they belong on a pizza- or burger for that matter). The pineapple industry in Australia is very QLD centric with top quality fruit being produced from Brisbane to Cooktown, though small amounts produced in Northern NSW and the NT deserve a mention. For many years, Australians buying pineapples lived by the general rule that smooth varieties are larger and juicier, whereas rough leaf fruit are smaller and sweeter. Over the last 15-20 years however this has changed, with cross-breeding of the existing smooth, rough and Hawaiian varieties producing a number of hybrid fruits that offer consumers the best of both worlds. With most pineapple varieties currently performing well at the markets, our bulletin this week is dedicated to the tropics favourite prickly character.
Before we break it down by variety, here are some insights which are true for all pineapples:
Selection: No matter which variety you buy it is important to note that pineapples may get juicier after harvesting but they don’t sweeter so choose plump fruit that has no bruising/blemishes and boasts a fresh, sweet (but not too sweet) pineapple fragrance.
Nutritional Benefits: pineapples are a fantastic source of Vitamin C with 100gm of some of the hybrid fruits delivering the entire recommended daily intake. They are also a great source of dietary fibre and a good source of Manganese
STANDARD PINEAPPLE: aka Smooth Cayenne
Availability: All year round, peaks in summer/warmer temperatures
Appearance: smooth with top
Flesh: pale yellow flesh
Flavour: juicy, slightly acidic, not as sweet as rough skin or the new hybrid varieties
Big deal: historically this has bee the canning pineapple – however still fantastic fresh.
BETHONGA: aka Bethonga Gold Hybrid/Topless Gold
Availability: all year, best Sept-May
Appearance: smooth, topless, slightly smaller than smooth cayenne
Flesh: richgold colour, less fibrous
Flavour: low acidity makes them more aromatic and sweeter in flavour than smooth cayenne
Big deal: less likely to cause the mouth blisters commonly associated with pineapples
BABY PINEAPPLE WITH STEMS:
Availability: Aug – Mar
Appearance: small pineapple with leaves, still attached to the stem
Best use: display purposes
Big deal: These miniature fruits are beautiful and add a quirky twist to a display/centerpiece.
ROUGH SKIN/LEAF: aka Queen
Availability: all year, peaks Dec/Jan
Appearance: rough skin with top on, small fruit
Flesh: gold/yellow flesh that is drier and more fibrous than Smooth Cayenne
Flavour: delicate, mild pineapple flavour that makes it lovely fresh
Big deal: more of a niche product, it keeps well and has a lovely crisp texture
Availability: all year, best Nov-Mar
Appearance: smooth yellow skin, small fruit, topless
Flesh: flesh is yellow, firm and crunchy
Flavour: very sweet, strong pineapple aroma with a hint of coconut
Big deal: this variety was born & bred in Australia, therefore it tends to delivers top quality fruit year round- it also has twice the Vit C of the Smooth Cayenne
KING OF FRUITS:
Availability: all year
Appearance: green/yellow smooth skin, topless
Flesh: much darker yellow/gold than smooth cayenne
Flavour: very sweet, low acid
Big deal: hybrid of rough skin and Hawaiian Gold, consistently good performer year round
A: This is a trend with the newer hybrid varieties on the market which are often trademarked by commercial partners. The tops of pineapples are removed and replanted, which considering each plant produces 1 pineapple every 2 years is a crucial part of ensuring the increased productivity and commercial availability of these new varieties. The cynics among us might also conclude that it is an effective strategy for trademark companies to protect their brand, as consumers and/or competitors are unable to use cuttings from purchased fruit to produce their own stock.