How to Ripen a Pineapple (Hint: You Can’t)
If you’ve ever been to Hawaii (or anywhere in the tropics) and tried a pineapple, you probably couldn’t believe how sweet it was. When I was in Thailand, they made smoothies out of pineapple and ice — that’s it — and to this day I think about how syrupy and refreshing they were.
When you pick a pineapple at the grocery store, you dream of those juicy, flavorful pineapples, and you probably wonder how to ripen a pineapple to perfection. But ripening a pineapple isn’t scientifically possible.
Pineapples can’t ripen after being cut. Once they are cut from their stems, which convert starch into sugar, their sugar content can’t increase. However, they will get softer and juicier.
Since pineapples won’t get sweeter after being picked, it’s essential to choose the best pineapple possible.
How to Tell if a Pineapple is Ripe
If you aren’t sure how to pick a pineapple, keep these three things in mind.
Sniff the bottom of the pineapple. It should smell sweet and fragrant. If there’s no scent, find a different pineapple. Avoid pineapples that smell fermented. If you’re not sure what “fermented” smells like, think kombucha or slightly sour.
Squeeze the pineapple. It should feel firm, but slightly soft. Avoid pineapples that feel rock hard.
Green or Yellow Color
Green is good, yellow is bad, right? Not quite. Green or yellow pineapples can be ripe. Pineapples that are yellow at the base, but green in other areas are typically a good choice. Avoid pineapples with brown spots or orange coloration.
How to Ripen a Pineapple: 2 Common Tips
There are two ways that most people will tell you to ripen a pineapple, but since we know that pineapples can’t get any sweeter, what are these methods actually doing?
Store the Pineapple in a Bag With Other Fruit
Many recommend placing a pineapple in a paper bag with ethylene producing fruit (like apples or bananas), and leaving it on the counter for 24 hours.
Ethylene helps to degreen the pineapple, so the outside will appear more yellow. As the pineapple ages, it will also become softer. Softness coupled with a change in color is what makes people think the pineapple is ripening.
Turn the Pineapple Upside-down
Because starch is converted to sugar in the stem and enters at the base of the fruit, the bottom of a pineapple may be slightly sweeter. Some believe that if you store a pineapple upside-down for a few days, the sugar may redistribute making the pineapple sweeter. Others believe turning a pineapple over helps redistribute the juices. However, there’s no scientific evidence for this, and its effectiveness is debated.
Personally, I like to cut up my pineapple and if it’s too tough, I’ll leave it in the fridge for a couple days. By then it’ll be softer, juicier, and more enjoyable to eat!
If the pineapple’s sweetness and texture isn’t the problem, but you’re concerned that it’ll irritate your mouth, try grilling or baking it. The prickly feeling in your mouth is caused by the enzyme bromelain, which breaks down protein, coupled with pineapple’s acidicness. Cooking pineapple denatures the enzyme.
How to Cut a Pineapple
Pineapples are prickly and intimidating, but once you get the hang of cutting a pineapple, it’s not so hard! Here’s how I do it:
- Cut the top and bottom off. It should be able to stand on its own.
- Stand the pineapple up and trim off the skin. Holding the top of the pineapple firmly, shave off the skin with your knife. Preserve as much of the flesh as you can.
- Remove any remaining eyes with your knife.
- Cut the pineapple in half, slicing from top to bottom.
- Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise. You should now have four pieces.
- Trim off the core.
- Slice your pineapple into bite-sized pieces.
How to Store a Pineapple
You did it! You picked the perfect pineapple, but now what? Here’s how to store your pineapple to keep it fresh.
- Room temperature: You can leave a whole pineapple out for 2-3 days. Remember, pineapples are picked as ripe as possible, so won’t last long after you buy them.
- Whole pineapple: Putting a whole pineapple in the fridge will keep it fresh for 4-5 days.
- Sliced pineapple: Once you slice your pineapple, store it in an airtight container in the fridge. It will last up to 5 days.
- Freezer: Similar to freezing apples, you’ll want to pre-freeze your pineapple chunks separately so they don’t stick together. Then, place chunks of pineapple in a freezer-safe container and store for up to 6 months.
Pineapples are a great source of vitamin C and manganese, plus they’ll make any smoothie (like anti-inflammatory turmeric smoothies) or bowl of oatmeal (you have to try pina colada overnight oats) feel like a tropical getaway! What’s your favorite way to eat pineapple?
How to Ripen a Pineapple in One Day
- 1 pineapple
- 1 paper bag
- 1 apple or banana
- Place your pineapple in a paper bag with an ethylene producing fruit like an apple or banana.
- Fold the top of the bag and leave it in a room temperature area for a day.
- Cut and enjoy!