You can blend it, toss it in a salad and even bake it in a cake… no we’re not talking about the much-loved avocado. This is the year of the pineapple.
Just as versatile but with a touch more of the tropics, sales of the humble pineapple surged by 15% last year, according to Tesco, making it the fruit that grew in popularity the most in the UK.
And it’s not just the whole fruit that has grown in popularity. Tesco also reported a 20% increase in sales of pineapple juice, and a 30% rise in sales of pre-prepared pineapple fingers. Even the controversial Hawaiian pizza is making a comeback (with a 15% increase).
Similar to the avocado, the pineapple is a surprisingly adaptable yet healthy food, which could be the reason for the boost in demand. Its ubiquity in home decor and fashion in recent years may also have encouraged people to hunt for it in the fruit aisle.
It hasn’t made it into our monthly supermarket price comparison basket yet, but perhaps it’s only a matter of time. For now, we’ve rounded up some top tips on making the most of 2018’s rising star.
5 ways to use pineapple at home
Summer is the perfect time to bring a hint of holiday home with some pineapple-based treats. Here are our top five options:
1. Whip up a refreshing cocktail, smoothie or juice
If you’re feeling the heat on a sizzling summer day, crack out your blender and make a tall glass of something refreshing with a tropical twist. Mix with mango, banana and passion fruit for a fruity blend, or stick to juicing pure pineapple for an intense fruity hit.
If you fancy a more sundown-worthy refresher, why not try mixing up the classic pina colada? Reportedly first made in Puerto Rico in 1952, it’s a mix of pineapple, coconut milk and white rum. Add some ice and blitz in your blender for ultimate refreshment.
2. Grill it on the BBQ
Hot, sweet and smoky – there’s nothing like griddled pineapple straight off the barbecue. Add it to your burger for a fruity twist, have as a side dish or, if you prefer something sweet, sprinkle on some cinnamon and serve with a dollop of ice cream or yoghurt.
The trick is to wait for the BBQ to get extra-hot, so you caramelise the sugar but leave the fruit juicy in the centre – cook for two to three minutes on either side.
Need a BBQ that’s up to the job? Discover the top five gas and charcoal barbecues you can buy today.
3. Make a fruity treat for teatime
It’s an oldie but it’s a classic – use your pineapple to make an upside-down cake and revel in the caramelised fruity goodness. It’s easy to make – all you need is some basic plain cake sponge ingredients and pineapple slices covered in butter and brown sugar.
Great for a summer tea party, you can whip up this pineapple pudding in no time using one of our Best Buy stand mixers. Pop it out of the tin and serve it to your guests with some crème fraiche.
4. Pineapple salsa
Liven up your summer meals with a zingy pineapple salsa. Simply mix small chunks of raw or grilled pineapple with finely chopped red onion, tomatoes, coriander and some lime juice for a refreshing accompaniment to your meal.
A pineapple salsa can go with anything from fish to tacos. It also works as a dip, paired with a handful of plain tortilla chips.
If you’re prepping sides in a hurry, save time on chopping by using a food processor. Our expert guide explains how to buy the perfect food processor for your kitchen.
5. Cheese and pineapple canapés
You can’t talk about this tropical fruit without mentioning the most classic of all pineapple dishes – the cheese and pineapple canapé.
Once a staple party snack, it consists of cheese and pineapple chunks on cocktail sticks. If you’re feeling really retro, you can stick them into a tin-foiled half cabbage to resemble a party food hedgehog and amuse your guests.
Tangy, creamy cheddar is the perfect match for the fruity sweetness of pineapple. Find out which ones our experts rated as most tasty in our guide to the best cheddar cheeses.
How to prepare a pineapple
Pineapples can be a bit daunting to prepare. However, you’ll get more for your money if you do it yourself.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to perfectly sliced pineapple:
- Pick the right one. When choosing your fruit, make sure the leaf plume looks fresh, it’s a deep yellow-orange colour and you can smell the sweetness from the base of the pineapple. If you can pull a leaf from the plume easily, it’s ripe and you’re ready to go.
- Lay the pineapple on its side on a flat surface and slice off the top and bottom of the fruit.
- Stand the pineapple upright and cut off the skin using a sharp knife.
- Lay the fruit on its side and remove the eyes by cutting shallow diagonal strips.
- For pineapple rings, use a corer to remove the tough centre and slice into rings.
- For wedges, cut in half, then into segments and slice out the core of each one.
If you prefer small chunks of pineapple, then why not make the job easier with a food processor or mini chopper?
What type of pineapple is best?
The type of pineapple you choose should depend on how you plan to use it. Fresh pineapple tastes great in marinades. But it contains an enzyme that tenderises meat, so you should be careful not to over-soak food, or you could end up with sloppy meat.
This enzyme also halts the setting process in gelatin, so raw pineapple shouldn’t be used in jellies or gelatin-based dishes. But when grilled, sprinkled on a pizza or blended in a cocktail it works just fine.
Fresh pineapple isn’t always in season, and can be expensive when it is, so tinned pineapple is a good alternative. If you’re looking to cut down on sugar, make sure you choose a variety that’s tinned in natural juice rather than syrup.
Pineapple vs avocado – how do they compare?
Which? nutritional expert Shefalee Loth explains: ‘Both pineapples and avocados are great additions to your diet. A portion of each (80g or a handful) counts as one of your five a day. That’s half an avocado or one or two pineapple slices.’
‘Nutritionally, pineapple is around 85% water and contains 41 calories and 10g of sugar per 100g. It contains vitamin C and potassium, but is by no means the largest source of these nutrients. Per 100g, fresh pineapple contains around a third of the vitamin C found in oranges, and half the potassium found in bananas, so there are cheaper options if you’re looking to get more of these nutrients in your diet.’
‘Conversely, avocado contains 190 calories per 100g, very little sugar but around 20g of fat. However, the majority of this is healthy mono- and poly-unsaturated fat. Avocados are also a great source of potassium and vitamin E.’
So it looks like it’s not all over for the avocado quite yet…