I love pineapple but have a devil of a time picking the ripest fruit when I’m at the grocer's. There are all kinds of people with all kinds of sage advice regarding picking the best fruit; some of it is ridiculous, some sounds sane enough, and some actually work. How about picking pineapple fruits from homegrown plants? How do you know when to pick a pineapple and how to harvest a pineapple plant?
When to Pick a Pineapple
Pineapple is a most amazing, seedless fruit called a syncarp. This basically means that the fruit is produced from the fusion of several flowers into one large fruit. These herbaceous perennials are easy to grow and only get to between 2 ½ and 5 feet (0.5-1.5 m.) tall, making them a perfect size for most gardens or as a potted plant. When the plant produces flowers, it is considered to be mature and you can expect (barring unseen complications) fruit in about six months. Although they are simple enough to grow, figuring out peak pineapple harvest time can be a challenge. Basically, when the pineapple is mature, the individual “fruitlets” flatten and the peel begins to change color from green to yellow, starting at the bottom and moving to the top of the fruit. Color is not the only indicator for picking pineapple fruits. Imminent pineapple harvesting is heralded by this change in color, and also in size. Mature pineapples weigh between 5-10 pounds (2.5-4.5 kg.). There are two other things to consider before harvesting pineapple. Smell is a good indicator of ripeness. It should emit a distinct sweet and tangy aroma. Also, tap the fruit. If it sounds hollow, allow the fruit to remain on the plant to ripen further. If it sounds solid, it’s likely pineapple harvest time.
How to Harvest a Pineapple Plant
When the fruit is one-third or more yellow, you can go ahead and harvest it. You can also harvest pineapple when it is in the late mature green phase, or when it is full-sized. You can then ripen the pineapple at room temp. Don’t refrigerate it until it is completely ripe! Refrigerating an unripe pineapple can ruin the fruit. To harvest the pineapple, simply cut it from the plant with a sharp kitchen knife where the pineapple joins the stalk. Then either leave it to further ripen at room temp if need be, refrigerate the fruit if completely ripe, or, ideally, devour immediately!
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.
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