When choosing a fresh pineapple, select fruit that is plump and firm with fresh green leaves in the crown. The pineapple should have a sweet aroma and no mould or soft spots.
Shell colour is not a good sign of maturity - some pineapple varieties remain green even when they are fully ripe. And forget pulling leaves out of the crown; ease of extraction is not an indication of either ripeness or quality.
Once a pineapple is harvested from the plant, it will not continue to ripen. It will change colour, get soft and the leaves will fall out, but these are signs of old age, not ripeness. The fruit should be used as soon as possible after purchase, but may be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated three to five days.
Fresh pineapple contains the enzyme bromelin, which breaks down protein. Used in marinades, it helps to tenderize meats, but it also prevents gelatine from setting. The enzyme is destroyed by cooking, so canned pineapple may be used in gelatine salads and desserts.
DATE: January 1990
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