The pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a tropical plant that produce a fruit with the same name. The fruit is highly appreciated and used by bartenders.
Perhaps my brother who is an agronomist had an influence on me, but before using a particular fruit, I want to know what variety it is, whether it’s climacteric or non-climacteric, how to preserve it best, what its organoleptic characteristics are and how to make the most of it when mixing. One of the first fruits I looked into was pineapple.
The first thing you need to know is that, actually, it isn’t a real fruit, it’s an infructescence. Strawberry and figs are also infructescences. Imagine many small fruits, that start off as many flowers, that join together to form just one. I’ve simplified the concept a bit, but I hope you get the idea.
Each fruit weighs approximately 2kg, the peel is not edible, the pulp is yellow, fleshy and is crossed by the stem, a harder part, and less tasty to eat. It’s rich in bromelain, a complex of enzymes that favors the digestion of proteins (it also has anti-inflammatory properties, but let’s be serious, we’re not here to make healing drinks are we?). This juice is also used to make the meat more tender.
The first thing to know is that it’s a non-climacteric fruit. This means basically that when it is removed from the plant, it does not ripen (it does not ripen after harvest). Over time, it becomes softer and less acidic but actually it will not undergo an improvement in organoleptic properties, which takes place, instead, in climacteric fruits. For this reason, at the time of purchase, we can only hope that those who have physically picked it from the plant, where it is produced, have done so with the aim of finding the best compromise between the ripening point and the shipping time (otherwise it is likely to go bad on the ships!). If you want to taste or use a pineapple that has matured on the plant you have to buy the ones shipped by air: they cost more but are extremely tasty and fragrant. If you buy in bulk, and you need to keep the fruit in the fridge, it is advisable not to go below 10°C, in order to avoid any chilling injuries.
My advice is to always make sure it is fresh, and avoid pineapples preserved in syrup, especially for cocktails such as Pina Colada. The best way to get the juice is through an slow juicer. The juice obtained in this way, in terms of taste and flavour, is higher performing, even better than fresh puree (blending the pulp): the waste is only the solid part that does not contribute to improving the aroma. Do not confuse a slow juicer with a centrifuge! The latter does not allow you to get a juice that is full of taste and produces much more waste. To ensure the utmost freshness, I recommend that you keep it in a glass bottle, in a refrigerator, and use it by the end of the evening. Discover how to preserve it as long as possible, by clicking here.
It’s quite an interesting idea to cook this fruit before using it (an idea stolen in a Brazilian restaurant where they slowly cook pineapples on a skewer). After cutting one centimeter thick slices, I cook them very slowly in a non-stick pan or on soapstone until they become dark. Once cooled you can crush them inside the drink you want to flavour (i.e. a Daiquiri).
However, the most important feature of pineapples is their ability to form foam. This is due to the presence of the so-called ‘pineapple gum’, a polysaccharide made up mainly of galactomannans (Chenchin, Yamamoto – Isolation, characterization and enzymic hydrolysis of pineapple gum). This feature makes this juice perfect for making spumes and, with due care, it gives a different texture to drinks (haven’t read the article on the Pina Colada yet?). A little spoiler: you’ll get less foam if you use more alcohol.
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