Pineapples were cultivated in the West Indies long before Columbus visited there. But after his voyage to the island of Guadeloupe, it was recorded in Spain that Columbus had “discovered” the fruit. The pineapple is native to tropical America and was known to the Indians as na-na, meaning fragrance, and to the Spanish explorers as piiia, because of its resemblance to a pine cone.
History does not record how pineapples first reached Hawaii. For many years they grew wild. Then, a young Bostonian started commercial production of them there in 1901 on twelve acres of land. His company has enlarged to the present 25,000 acres. The plant of this fruit grows from two to four feet high, with a rosette of stiff, sword-shaped leaves growing from its base. Out of the rosette center grows a single, fleshy, scaly-coated fruit that is four to ten inches long. A cluster of sword-shaped leaves surmounts the fruit.
Pineapples are grown in many parts of the world, but the United States is supplied principally from Cuba, Mexico, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. They may be obtained all year long, but are most abundant from March through July. The peak months are June and July.
A ripe pineapple in quality condition has a fresh, clean appearance, a distinctive darkish orange-yellow color, and a decided fragrance. The “eyes” of the fruit are flat and almost hollow. If the fruit is mature it is usually heavier in proportion to its size. To test for ripeness, pull at the spikes. If they pull out easily, the fruit is ripe; discolored areas, or soft spots, are an indication of bruised fruit.
High in vitamin C, the pineapple is considered to be a protective fruit. It is wonderful for constipation and poor digestion. The pineapple helps digest proteins, and can be used in elimination diets. It leaves an alkaline ash in the body. Pineapple is thought to have a certain amount of iodine because it grows near the ocean. When buying canned pineapple, make sure it is unsweetened. Pineapple goes well with fruit and nuts, and is good to eat on a fruit diet.
NUTRIENTS IN ONE POUND
Calcium 39mg Niacin 0.5mg
Phosphorus 19mg Ascorbic acid 40mg
Vitamin A: 170 I.U.