The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is one of the most popular fruits, eaten for
dessert as well as for toppings, glazings, and flavouring for main meals.
Pineapple originated in South America. In northern Paraquay, the Guarani Indians
domesticated this crop.
Before Columbus arrived in the New World, the native Amerinds consumed pineapples, referring
to them as ananas. Ananas is still used as a reference name in French and other languages.
Most of use, however, prefer to use the well-known name, pineapple, because of its similarity
to the common pine cone.
During the 1500's, pineapple was exported throughout
the world by traders coming and going by ship.
Because pineapple had become so popular, many farmers around the world tried unsuccessfully to
cultivate this crop. Pineapples thrive in dry, well-drained tropical habitats, (e.g.,
tropical regions of south America, South and West Africa, and Southeast Asia. Today, the
Hawaiian Islands supplies a large majority of
the world's pineapple demand, where the crop was successfully cultivated in the late 1800's.
A pineapple plant is cultivated as a biennial. A majority of Hawaiian
pineapple is cultivar Smooth Cayenne. Most pineapples are canned, juiced, or eaten raw.
The central cylinder (the edible portion)
is diced, and hot syrup from juices and sugar are added.
The sugary syrup from the excess pineapple juices can be fermented to produced alcohol or pineapple wine,
or to extract citric acid.
Pineapple juice contains bromelin (bromelain), a protein-digesting
enzyme similar to papain (papaya enzyme, Carica papaya). Bromelin
acts as an antibacterial and also has anti-inflammatory properties.
This enzyme stops gelatin from solidifying. This is why you cannot
use raw pineapple in gelatin-containing recipes.
Like papaya, pineapple aids digestion and helps to dissolve blood clots. Bromelin
and papaya enzyme aid digestion because they are enzymes, which help to catalyze digestive
reactions in the stomach and small intestine. Pineapple can prolong the onset of
osteoporosis and bone fractures because of its high manganese content.
Pineapple is also somewhat estrogenic.