Pineapples, Ananas comosus, belong to the Bromeliaceae family. A pineapple is a juicy topical fruit composed of scaly brown skin that envelops a cylindrical body, with leafy palm hair. Encased are sugary sweet, juicy, fibrous yellow insides. But most of us are used to seeing it spill out of a can as golden rings soaked in juice or syrup, sans the tough imbricated skin. Culinary uses include adding to pizza or ham, searing on the grill, and is a delicious golden crown on a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, when you turn it back over of course.
The plant is indigenous to South America, thought to have originated from the area between Southern Brazil and Paraguay. Large-scale pineapple cultivation by U.S. companies began in the early 1900’s on Hawaii, most notably by James Dole, aka the ‘Pineapple King.’ He was an American industrialist who developed the pineapple industry in Hawaii and established the Hawaiian Pineapple Company. The Hawaiian Pineapple Company, or HAPCO, would later become the Dole Food Company, Inc. Dole Food Company, Inc. (Dole) is the second largest global producer of fresh pineapples worldwide, and the world’s largest producer and marketer of fresh fruit.
Normally, pineapples are in season from March to June, though they can be produced and imported year round. The highest yielding countries exporting the succulent fruit today are the Philippines, Brazil, Costa Rica, Thailand, and China. Be mindful, many of the countries do not always share the same safety standards we do here in the U.S. in regards to pesticides.
Rich in essential vitamins, Pineapples have medicinal purposes, providing anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits due to its dense presence of Bromelain (enzyme). Bromelain is found throughout the fruit, including the stems, and is extracted and used in supplements. Laboratory research has found that Bromelain may interfere with the germination of cancer cells, and reduce the likelihood of macular degeneration.
Normally, pineapples are reasonably affordable, but not if grown in the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, England, according to MSN.com. Their pineapples are produced using only Victorian horticultural techniques. These methods include two years in a greenhouse, being saturated in horse urine, and tons of manure. This practice results in a pineapple described as, “deliciously sweet with an explosive flavor.” However, it’ll cost the consumer roughly $16,000 to have one. But you won’t be sold one.
The Sun reports that:
“Each costs £1,200 to grow, but the £10,000 (~$16,159.00 US) one won’t be sold — garden staff will eat it.”
This is likely the most extravagantly pampered, expensive piece of fruit.