Pineapple is one of the worst-tasting fruits when it’s unripe. It offers a sour taste with an unpleasant fibrous texture. Eating unripe pineapple can also be toxic to humans, leading to diarrhea and nausea.
So what’s the best way to ripen a pineapple? Once harvested, it stops ripening. But there are a few tricks you can use to improve your pineapple’s flavor, color, and texture.
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How to Ripen a Pineapple
The easiest way to ripen a pineapple is to leave it out on the counter. If you’re not in a hurry to eat the fruit, then this is a suitable option. Within 3-5 days, you will notice a yellow color developing, and it will soften a little. Don’t expect results like you’d get from some other fruit. The sugar levels won’t increase as much as you’d get from a banana.
If you’re in a hurry and need a pineapple that’s sweet without too much green color, follow one of the following methods.
1. The paper bag trick
Although you won’t get a big hit of sweetness through this ripening process, it will make a difference. It will also soften the texture so that it’s possible to chew the fruit easily. You’ll add a golden color to the exterior using this technique.
- Pop your pineapple in a paper bag along with an apple.
- Seal off the top of the bag by folding the top over a couple of times.
- Leave the bag for 1-2 days in a dry spot that’s at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.
- Chop your pineapple and eat it, or store it in the fridge for up to one week.
Quick Tip: Avoid the temptation to continue ripening the fruit for over two days. It will become acidic and may begin fermenting.
2. Upside-down method
Pineapples are fruits that contain starch in their base. It is this starch that is the building block for creating sugar. Some believe that flipping pineapples upside down will assist with distributing the starch through the rest of the fruit.
Trim the leaves off to create a flat base, allowing the pineapple to sit securely on the countertop. If you have a large mason jar, remove the lid and use it as a base for your fruit to sit inside.
If you test this option, always store the fruit at ambient temperature. Leaving it in the refrigerator will slow the ripening process.
3. Use uncooked rice
Find a large bowl and immerse the fruit in uncooked rice. This method prevents ethylene gas from escaping and will speed up ripening by 1-2 days. The rice is still edible, so long as you don’t allow the pineapple to go off.
4. Add a sweetener
Pineapple is a versatile fruit that adds tropical flavor to drinks, desserts, and even savory dishes. But an unripe pineapple won’t do much for your meal. That is, unless you balance the sour flavor profile with some sugar or another sweetener. A few teaspoons of sugar sprinkled on the pineapple will help.
One of my favorite dishes is Hawaiian chicken, which includes pineapple. Even an unripe pineapple is okay for this recipe. The secret is to fry the flesh in pan juices with a sprinkle of sugar. This step will help the fruit reach its true potential.
Cooking pineapple will also help break down the fibers and make it easier to chew.
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How to Tell If a Pineapple is Ripe
It is tempting to do a “sight test,” but a green pineapple doesn’t mean it isn’t ripe. The best way to know if a pineapple is ripe is to smell the base of the fruit. A gentle pineapple aroma signals it’s ripe; if there is no smell, then it’s not ripe. If your pineapple has been stored in the fridge, you’ll need to allow the fruit to warm to room temperature because cold pineapple doesn’t give off any aroma.
Also, give the pineapple a gentle squeeze. If it feels like a bowling ball with no “give,” then keep searching.
Finally, the pluck test is a useful trick. If the leaves are still intact, pick them out from the center of the crown. It should come out without resistance. If it’s hard to remove, then it probably isn’t ready.
Can you eat an unripe pineapple?
Eating a raw, unripe pineapple isn’t advisable. Besides the bland taste, the bromelain enzyme is toxic and can cause stomach upsets. Cooking the fruit will destroy any bromelain traces. Add sugar, then bake in the oven or grill until the outside starts to caramelize. The flavor will be much improved.
How to Prepare a Pineapple
The Time-Consuming Way
- Get yourself a sharp knife and a chopping board.
- Lay the pine on its side and slice off the crown and a thin slice of the base. Place the fruit upright.
- Slice off the skin using top-to-bottom cuts. The rough “eyes” should be cut off too at this stage.
- Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise, and then cut each half lengthwise again so that you have four pieces.
- You’ll see a lighter-colored core in each quarter. Slice this core off and discard it.
- Cut the quarters into suitably sized pieces.
The Easy Way
Check out this Pineapple Corer on Amazon for pain-free preparation. You’ll get pineapple perfection every time with this handy kitchen tool.
How to Store a Pineapple
Store pineapples on the kitchen counter or in the fridge.
How to Tell If a Pineapple Has Gone Bad
Pineapples with brown leaves, a dry-looking body, and a wet base have probably spoiled. You can also perform a smell test on the pineapple. If the aroma of pineapple has disappeared, that means it has begun to ferment and should not be eaten.
Pineapples offer a sweet, tropical taste that many enjoy. It’s essential to learn how to choose a good pineapple at the store. This knowledge will allow you to chop open the fruit immediately without the need to ripen it.
To ripen a pineapple, seal it in a paper bag with an apple. The fruit should take 1-2 days to soften and sweeten.
Do you have a favorite dish that uses pineapple? Let us know in the comments below.