How to Ripen a Pineapple (4 Simple Tips)
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 delicious 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 after it’s picked 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.
How to Ripen a Pineapple: 4 Common Tips
There are four ways that you can soften a pineapple and make it more palatable. Remember, a pineapple won’t ripen after it’s picked, but it will get softer.
If you’d like to eat your pineapple in the near future, avoid storing it in the fridge. Instead, try one of the following methods. You’ll know it’s ready once it gives off a fragrant smell.
1. Let the Pineapple Soften on the Counter
If the pineapple isn’t showing signs of ripeness, you can leave it out on the counter. After 2-5 days, you should notice the pineapple become more fragrant and begin to change color. Once the pineapple is fragrant, it’s ready to cut and enjoy.
2. Place the Pineapple in a Bag With Other Fruit
To speed up the softening process, place your pineapple in a paper bag with ethylene producing fruit (like apples or bananas), fold over the top of the bag, and leave it on the counter for 1-2 days.
Ethylene helps to degreen the pineapple, so the outside will appear more yellow. As the pineapple ages, it will also become softer.
This trick works for many types of fruit including avocados, mangos, and tomatoes.
3. 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 haven’t found that this method works better than leaving the pineapple on the counter for a few days. I’ve noticed that cut pineapple will also soften in the fridge over time, so if it’s not to my liking after I cut it, I’ll wait a couple days to eat it.
4. Cook the Pineapple
While cooking pineapple doesn’t ripen it, it does soften it and denature the enzymes that may irritate your mouth.
Here are a few ideas for cooking your pineapple.
- Grill your pineapple: Cut the pineapple into rings or spears. Coat the outside of the pineapple with melted butter. You can add sugar and cinnamon if you’d like. On medium heat, grill your pineapple for about three minutes on each side. You could also cook your pineapple like this in a pan on the stovetop.
- Bake your pineapple: You can also bake pineapple rings or spears. Coat with butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Then, pop them in the oven at 400°F for about 15-25 minutes depending on how thick the pineapple is cut and how tender you want it. Check after the first 10 minutes to evaluate progress.
- Make a compote or sauce: If all else fails, you can make a sauce or jam. You can’t go wrong adding it to ice cream or putting it on waffles.
How to Tell if a Pineapple is Ripe
To avoid having to ripen or soften a pineapple, you should choose the best one possible. Here are some tips that will help you pick a delicious pineapple.
Choose a Pineapple With a Fragrant Base
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.
Feel for a Firm Texture
Squeeze the pineapple. It should feel firm, but have a little give. Avoid pineapples that feel rock hard, which could signify that they are underripe. Pineapples that have a lot of soft spots may be overripe or about to spoil.
Look for a Green or Yellow Color
Green or yellow pineapples can be ripe. Pineapples that are yellow at the base, but green in other areas are typically a good choice because pineapples ripen from the bottom up. Avoid pineapples with brown spots, which could mean they are spoiled. Also avoid orange pineapples, which could signify that they are too ripe.
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. You can cut it into spears or cubes.
For ease, you could also try using a pineapple corer.
How to Store a Pineapple
You did it! You picked and ripened a delicious 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.
Why Do Pineapples Make Your Mouth Hurt?
Pineapples contain the enzyme bromelain, which some people have a sensitivity to. Bromelain breaks down proteins in your mouth, which can cause tingling, burning, or general discomfort.
I’m particularly sensitive, so can only eat pineapples in small quantities. However, rinsing your mouth with water or eating dairy products (like ice cream or whipped cream) can help. Cooking your pineapple also reduces the burning sensation.
Are Pineapples Good For You?
Yes, pineapples are packed with vitamins and fiber. One cup of cubed pineapples has 135% of your daily recommended Vitamin C, which is great for immunity. Plus, it’s only 83 calories (0.2 g fat, 21.6 g carbs, and 0.9 g protein). Pineapple is also high in fiber and rich in manganese, which aids your metabolism and can decrease inflammation.
Pineapples will 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 or two, depending on how much it needs to soften.
- Cut and enjoy!