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Pineapple, common name for a flowering plant
family, characterized by unique water-absorbing leaf scales and regular
three-parted flowers. The leaves are spirally arranged sheaths or blades,
usually occurring in layers. The plant embryos have one seed leaf (see
Monocots). The family, which contains more than 2000 species placed in 46
genera, is almost exclusively native to the tropics and subtropics of America,
with one species occurring in western Africa. Many species are now cultivated
around the globe, however. The most economically important species is the
familiar pineapple. A few species are sources of fiber; others are cultivated
for their showy flowers or foliage. The family constitutes an order, and the
term bromeliad is used for its members.
The pineapple was probably first domesticated in the high plateaus of central
South America; it was widely planted for its fiber before Europeans first saw it
in the Caribbean. Thereafter, cultivation spread to warm regions around the
globe. Hawaiian plantations produce almost a third of the world's crop and
supply 60 percent of canned pineapple products. Other leading producers are
China, Brazil, and Mexico.
In California, Pineapples are available all year. A ripe Pineapple is fragrant,
heavy and symmetrical in size. In the USA, pineapples are enjoyed as a dessert
or snack, in salads, in drinks, in baking and in cooking. Once the fibrous core
is removed and the fruit separated from the shell, delicious and juicy slices
can be carved from the remaining flesh. Pineapples are picked ripe and ready to
eat, so you can enjoy them immediately after purchase.
Basic Nutritional Facts: Fat-free, Saturated fat-free, Very low sodium,
Cholesterol-free, High in vitamin C
Detailed nutritional information can be found by searching the
USDA Nutritional Database. Enter "Pineapple" (no
quotes) as the keyword and select the link and report of interest.
Scientific classification: Pineapples make up the family Bromeliaceae and
the order Bromeliales. The familiar pineapple is classified as Ananas comosus.
The primitive pineapples that grow high in the Andes are classified in the genus
Puya. Spanish moss is classified as Tillandsia usneoides.
Select a pineapple that has a fresh appearance with deep
green leaves, and is slightly soft to the touch. With certain varieties, the
color of the shell is not an indication of how ripe a pineapple is. The
exception to this rule is the Del Monte Golden Ripe Pineapple, which has a
beautiful golden rind when ripe. This pineapple, the sweetest available and
exclusive to the Del Monte brand, is easily distinguished by the tag attached
to every pineapple.
Pulling leaves out is NOT a way to tell if a pineapple is
ripe. Some varieties, but not all, have a fragrant aroma.
Store whole pineapples at room temperature for a few days
or in the refrigerator. You can store cut pineapples in your refrigerator for 3
to 5 days.
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