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



Image: SGS

Availability: Aug - Mar

Appearance: small pineapple with leaves, still attached to the stem

Flavour: N/A

Best use: display purposes

Big deal: These miniature fruits are beautiful and add a quirky twist to a display/centerpiece.




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




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.