While the debate of whether or not pineapple belongs on pizza is long from over, there is no doubt that the fruit plays a vital role as a summertime flavor. A properly cut pineapple can garnish tropical drinks, complete a fruit cocktail, complement a shish kabob, or give that signature look to your upside-down cake. Canned pineapple can taste syrupy, and only has about 60 percent of the vitamin D that fresh pineapple offers—and pre-cut pineapple can be expensive. While cutting a fresh pineapple can be intimidating for those of us who didn’t grow up with the fruit, we’re going to break down the pineapple preparing process—so even the least pineapple-savvy cook can offer this sweet, tangy, and bright fruit this summer.
Start by picking your pineapple. It should smell fresh and sweet. Look for one with a gold bottom—too much green is a sign that it’s not ready. Check the pineapple for softness before cutting—an ideal pineapple is firm but not hard.
Grab your cutting board. Using a large knife, cut straight across the top—just a couple inches from the green leafy bloom on top. Remove it in its entirety. Then, slice downward from the top—carving off just the outermost brown layer. During this process, keep in mind that the sweetest, most delicious pineapple is found toward the outside—so minimize how deep you carve, following the natural curve of the fruit.
Once the skin is removed, it will expose the pineapple’s circular eyes—one of the last things between you and your perfectly sliced island treat. Slice off the bottom of the pineapple, giving it a flat surface to set it on for the process of removing the eyes. Notice the pattern of the eyes on your pineapple—they actually align. Using a small knife, work your way along the alignment, cutting down each side of the eyes toward the center behind it. Make sure your cuts meet in the middle behind the eyes, and carefully pop out the eyes in sets of three or four. This is a time saver compared to the traditional method of scooping out each one, but that remains an option for those who don’t like the spiraled look.
Once you’re done, you’ll have a completely edible and aesthetically appealing pineapple. While the entire fruit can be eaten at this point, the core is very tough and usually gets removed prior to serving. From here, a chef can go a few different directions.
For pineapple chunks, stand the pineapple on a cutting board and cut downward four times along the lines of a tic-tac-toe grid, removing the tough core. Then, cut the remaining pieces once more vertically before dicing them up into small bite-sized pieces—perfect for a refreshing, fresh fruit salad.
If you need rings for your pineapple upside-down cake, slice the pineapple horizontally into ⅔ -inch pieces. Then, use a round pastry cutter or small knife to remove the tough center. For a sweet summer treat, the center can be left in, eaten around, and tossed after the sweet, soft part of the fruit has been eaten. While there are countless different ways to enjoy a pineapple, at least now you know how to start the process. May your tropical drinks stay garnished and your pizzas remain controversial.
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