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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

PINEAPPLES - THE BEST OF IT


PINEAPPLE (Ananas comosus) as I know belongs to the Bromeliaceae family, from which one of its most important health-promoting compounds, the enzyme bromelain, was named. The Spanish name for pineapple, pina, and the root of its English name, reflects the fruit's visual similarity to the pinecone. Pineapples are actually not just one fruit but a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Each fruitlet can be identified by an "eye," the rough spiny marking on the pineapple's surface. Pineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves. The fibrous flesh of pineapple is yellow in color and has a vibrant tropical flavor that balances the tastes of sweet and tart. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and therefore a sweeter taste and more tender texture. Although thought to have originated in South America, pineapples were first discovered by Europeans in 1493 on the Caribbean island that came to be known as Guadalupe. When Columbus and other discovers brought pineapples back to Europe, attempts were made to cultivate the sweet, prized fruit until it was realized that the fruit's need for a tropical climate inhibited its ability to flourish in this region. By the end of the 16th century, Portuguese and Spanish explorers introduced pineapples into many of their Asian, African and South Pacific colonies, countries in which the pineapple is still being grown today. In Malaysia pineapple are grown commercially in Johore and few other states for about 14,000 hectare annually.

 

Since pineapples are very perishable, and modes of transportation to bring them stateside from the Caribbean Islands were relatively slow centuries ago, fresh pineapples were a rarity that became coveted by the early American colonists. While glazed, sugar-coated pineapples were a luxurious treat, it was the fresh pineapple itself that became the sought after true symbol of prestige and social class. In fact, the pineapple, because of its rarity and expense, was such a status item in those times that all a party hostess had to do was to display the fruit as part of a decorative centerpiece, and she would be awarded more than just a modicum of social awe and recognition. In the 18th century, pineapples began to be cultivated in Hawaii, the only state in the U.S. in which they are still grown. In addition to Hawaii, other countries that commercially grow pineapples include Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, China, Brazil and Mexico and few other tropical countries. 

Pineapples have exceptional juiciness and a vibrant tropical flavor that balances the tastes of sweet and tart. They are second only to bananas as America's favorite tropical fruit. Although the season for pineapple runs from March through June, they are available year-round in local markets. Pineapples are a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Each fruitlet can be identified by an "eye," the rough spiny marking on the pineapple's surface. Pineapples have a wide cylindrical shape, a scaly green, brown or yellow skin and a regal crown of spiny, blue-green leaves and fibrous yellow flesh. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and therefore a sweeter taste and more tender texture. Pineapple is an excellent source the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. For example, the key oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells), requires manganese. In addition to manganese, pineapple is a good source of thiamin, a B vitamin that acts as a cofactor in enzymatic reactions central to energy production.

Fresh pineapple.

By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Precint 11, Putrajaya
WP, Malaysia.
(10 Rejab 1436H)

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I am liking the fruit more and more with sweeter, smoother and juicier hybrids. Btw, pineapple works wonders for 'heaty' cough :-)

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