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|A pineapple on its parent plant|
Pineapples may be cultivated from a crown cutting of the fruit, possibly flowering in 20–24 months and fruiting in the following six months. Pineapple does not ripen significantly post-harvest.
Pineapples can be consumed fresh, cooked, juiced, and preserved. They are found in a wide array of cuisines. In addition to consumption, the pineapple leaves are used to produce the textile fiber piña in the Philippines, commonly used as the material for the men's Barong Tagalog and women's Baro't saya formal wear in the country. The fiber is also used as a component for wallpaper and other furnishings.
The word "pineapple" in English was first recorded to describe the reproductive organs of conifer trees (now termed pine cones). When European explorers discovered this tropical fruit in the Americas, they called them "pineapples" (first referenced in 1664 for resemblance to the pine cone).
In the scientific binomial Ananas comosus, ananas, the original name of the fruit, comes from the Tupi word nanas, meaning "excellent fruit", as recorded by André Thevet in 1555, and comosus, "tufted", refers to the stem of the fruit. Other members of the Ananas genus are often called "pine", as well, in other languages. In Spanish, pineapples are called piña ("pine cone"), or ananá (ananás) (for example, the piña colada drink).
The pineapple is a herbaceous perennial, which grows to 1.0 to 1.5 meters (3.3 to 4.9 ft) tall, although sometimes it can be taller. In appearance, the plant itself has a short, stocky stem with tough, waxy leaves. When creating its fruit, it usually produces up to 200 flowers, although some large-fruited cultivars can exceed this. Once it flowers, the individual fruits of the flowers join together to create what is commonly referred to as a pineapple. After the first fruit is produced, side shoots (called 'suckers' by commercial growers) are produced in the leaf axils of the main stem. These may be removed for propagation, or left to produce additional fruits on the original plant. Commercially, suckers that appear around the base are cultivated. It has 30 or more long, narrow, fleshy, trough-shaped leaves with sharp spines along the margins that are 30 to 100 centimeters (1.0 to 3.3 ft) long, surrounding a thick stem. In the first year of growth, the axis lengthens and thickens, bearing numerous leaves in close spirals. After 12 to 20 months, the stem grows into a spike-like inflorescence up to 15 cm (6 in) long with over 100 spirally arranged, trimerous flowers, each subtended by a bract. Flower colors vary, depending on variety, from lavender, through light purple to red.
The ovaries develop into berries, which coalesce into a large, compact, multiple accessory fruit. The fruit of a pineapple is arranged in two interlocking helices, eight in one direction, thirteen in the other, each being a Fibonacci number.
Seed formation needs pollination, but the presence of seeds harms the quality of the fruit. In Hawaii, where pineapple is cultivated on an agricultural scale, importation of hummingbirds is prohibited for this reason. Certain bat-pollinated wild pineapples open their flowers only at night.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||209 kJ (50 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||1.4 g|
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
The flesh and juice of the pineapple are used in cuisines around the world. In many tropical countries, pineapple is prepared, and sold on roadsides as a snack. It is sold whole, or in halves with a stick inserted. Whole, cored slices with a cherry in the middle are a common garnish on hams in the West. Chunks of pineapple are used in desserts such as fruit salad, as well as in some savory dishes, including pizza toppings and a grilled ring on a hamburger. Crushed pineapple is used in yogurt, jam, sweets, and ice cream. The juice of the pineapple is served as a beverage, and it is also the main ingredient in cocktails such as the piña colada.
In a 100 gram serving, raw pineapple is an excellent source of manganese (44% daily value (DV)) and vitamin C (58% DV), but otherwise contains no essential nutrients in significant content (table).
Present in all parts of the pineapple plant, bromelain is a mixture of proteolytic enzymes. Bromelain is under preliminary research for a variety of clinical disorders, but to date has not been adequately defined for its effects in the human body. Bromelain may be unsafe for some users, such as in pregnancy, allergies, or anticoagulation therapy.
If having sufficient bromelain content, raw pineapple juice can be used as a meat marinade and tenderizer. Pineapple enzymes can interfere with the preparation of some foods, such as jelly and other gelatin-based desserts, but are destroyed during cooking and canning. The quantity of bromelain in a typical serving of pineapple fruit is probably not significant; further, an ingested enzyme like bromelain is unlikely to survive intact the proteolytic processes of stomach digestion.
The plant is indigenous to South America and is said to originate from the area between southern Brazil and Paraguay; however, little is known about the origin of the domesticated pineapple (Pickersgill, 1976). M.S. Bertoni (1919) considered the Paraná–Paraguay River drainages to be the place of origin of A. comosus. The natives of southern Brazil and Paraguay spread the pineapple throughout South America, and it eventually reached the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico, where it was cultivated by the Mayas and the Aztecs. Columbus encountered the pineapple in 1493 on the leeward island of Guadeloupe. He called it piña de Indes, meaning "pine of the Indians", and brought it back with him to Europe, thus making the pineapple the first bromeliad to leave the New World. The Spanish introduced it into the Philippines, Hawaii (introduced in the early 19th century, first commercial plantation 1886), Zimbabwe and Guam. The fruit is said to have been first introduced in Hawaii when a Spanish ship brought it there in the 1500s. The Portuguese took the fruit from Brazil and introduced it into India by 1550.
The pineapple was brought to northern Europe by the Dutch from their colony in Surinam. The first pineapple to be successfully cultivated in Europe, is said to have been grown by Pieter de la Court at Meerburg in 1658. In England, a huge "Pineapple stove" needed to grow the plants had been built at the Chelsea Physic Garden in 1723. In France, King Louis XV was presented with a pineapple that had been grown at Versailles in 1733. Catherine the Great ate pineapples grown on her own estates before her death in 1796. Because of the expense of direct import and the enormous cost in equipment and labour required to grow them in a temperate climate, using hothouses called "pineries", pineapples soon became a symbol of wealth. They were initially used mainly for display at dinner parties, rather than being eaten, and were used again and again until they began to rot. By the second half of the 18th century, the production of the fruit on British estates had become the subject of great rivalry between wealthy aristocrats. John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore built a hothouse on his estate surmounted by a huge stone cupola 14 metres tall in the shape of the fruit; it is known as the Dunmore Pineapple.
John Kidwell is credited with the introduction of the pineapple industry to Hawaii. Large-scale pineapple cultivation by US companies began in the early 1900s on Hawaii. Among the most famous and influential pineapple industrialists was James Dole who moved to Hawaii in 1899 and started a pineapple plantation in 1900. The companies Dole and Del Monte began growing pineapple on the island of Oahu in 1901 and 1917, respectively. Dole's pineapple company began with the acquisition of 60 acres (24 ha) of land in 1901, and has grown into a major company. Maui Pineapple Company began pineapple cultivation on the island of Maui in 1909. In 2006, Del Monte announced its withdrawal from pineapple cultivation in Hawaii, leaving only Dole and Maui Pineapple Company in Hawaii as the US's largest growers of pineapples.
In the US, in 1986, the Pineapple Research Institute was dissolved and its assets were divided between Del Monte and Maui Land and Pineapple. Del Monte took cultivar '73–114', which it dubbed 'MD-2', to its plantations in Costa Rica, found it to be well-suited to growing there, and launched it publicly in 1996. (Del Monte also began marketing '73–50', dubbed 'CO-2', as 'Del Monte Gold'). In 1997, Del Monte began marketing its 'Gold Extra Sweet' pineapple, known internally as 'MD-2'. MD-2 is a hybrid that originated in the breeding program of the now-defunct Pineapple Research Institute in Hawaii, which conducted research on behalf of Del Monte, Maui Land and Pineapple Company, and Dole.
|Pineapple production – 2010|
In 2010, the Philippines produced 2,169,230 tonnes, closely followed by Brazil, which produced 2,120,030 tonnes, and Costa Rica, 1,976,760 tonnes. Total world production in 2010 was 18,266,797 tonnes. The primary exporters of fresh pineapples in 2009 were Costa Rica, 1,511,460 tons; Belgium, 273,014 tons; and the Philippines, 209,532 tons.  Since 2000, the most common fresh pineapple fruit found in U.S. and European supermarkets is a low-acid hybrid that was developed in Hawaii in the early 1970s.
In commercial farming, flowering can be induced artificially, and the early harvesting of the main fruit can encourage the development of a second crop of smaller fruits. Once removed during cleaning, the top of the pineapple can be planted in soil and a new plant will grow. Slips and suckers are planted commercially.
Ethical and environmental concerns
Three-quarters of the pineapples sold in Europe are grown in Costa Rica, where pineapple production is highly industrialised. Growers typically use 20 kg (44 lb) of pesticides per hectare in each growing cycle, a process that may affect soil quality and biodiversity. The pesticides – organophosphates, organochlorines and hormone disruptors – have the potential to affect workers' health and can contaminate local drinking water supplies. Many of these chemicals have potential to be carcinogens, and may be related to birth defects.
Because of commercial pressures, many pineapple workers – 60% of whom are Nicaraguan – in Costa Rica are paid low wages.[quantify] European supermarkets' price-reduction policies have lowered growers' incomes. One major pineapple producer contests these claims.
There are many cultivars. The leaves of the commonly grown "smooth cayenne" are smooth and it is the most commonly grown worldwide. Many cultivars have become distributed from its origins in Paraguay and the southern part of Brazil, and later improved stocks were introduced into the Americas, the Azores, Africa, India, Malaysia and Australia. Varieties include:
- 'Hilo': a compact 1–1.5 kg (2–3 lb) Hawaiian variant of smooth cayenne, the fruit is more cylindrical and produces many suckers, but no slips.
- 'Kona sugarloaf': 2.5–3 kg (5–6 lb), white flesh with no woodiness in the center, cylindrical in shape, it has a high sugar content but no acid, an unusually sweet fruit.
- 'Natal queen': 1–1.5 kg (2–3 lb), golden yellow flesh, crisp texture and delicate mild flavor, well-adapted to fresh consumption, keeps well after ripening, spiny leaves, grown in Australia, Malaysia, and South Africa
- 'Pernambuco' ('eleuthera'): 1–2 kg (2–4 lb) with pale yellow to white flesh, sweet, melting and excellent for eating fresh, poorly adapted for shipping, spiny leaves, grown in Latin America
- 'Red Spanish': 1–2 kg (2–4 lb), pale yellow flesh with pleasant aroma, squarish in shape, well-adapted for shipping as fresh fruit to distant markets, spiny leaves, grown in Latin America
- 'Smooth cayenne': 2.5–3 kg (5–6 lb), pale yellow to yellow flesh, cylindrical in shape, high sugar and acid content, well-adapted to canning and processing, leaves without spines. It is an ancient cultivar developed by Amerind peoples. Until recently, this was the variety from Hawaii, and the most easily obtainable in US grocery stores, but has been replaced by 'MD-2'. It is one of the ancestors of cultivars '73–114' (also called 'MD-2') and '73-50' (also called 'MD-1' and 'CO-2').
- Some Ananas species are grown as ornamentals for color, novel fruit size and other esthetic qualities.
Pests and diseases
Pineapples are subject to a variety of diseases, the most serious of which is wilt disease vectored by mealybugs typically found on the surface of pineapples, but possibly in the closed blossom cups. Other diseases include pink disease, bacterial heart rot, anthracnose, fungal heart rot, root rot, black rot, butt rot, fruitlet core rot, and yellow spot virus. Pink disease is characterized by the fruit developing a brownish to black discoloration when heated during the canning process. The causal agents of pink disease are the bacteria Acetobacter aceti, Gluconobacter oxydans, and Pantoea citrea.
Storage and transport
Some buyers prefer green fruit, others ripened or off-green. A plant growth regulator, Ethephon, is typically sprayed onto the fruit one week before harvest, developing ethylene, which turns the fruit golden yellow. After cleaning and slicing, a pineapple is typically canned in sugar syrup with added preservative.
Usage in culture
In the Caribbean, Europe and North America, the pineapple became associated with the return of ships from extended voyages, and an emblem of welcome and hospitality that made its way into contemporary art.
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