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In Season: Pineapple

Everyday Food, March 2011

The Basics
Don't be deterred by this fruit's prickly exterior; fresh pineapple is the perfect sweet, sunny fruit to enjoy at the end of a long winter. Once rare in the United States, pineapple was served only on special occasions, so it became a symbol of hospitality.

To Buy
Because pineapple doesn't ripen further after being picked, select a ready-to-eat one. Look for fruit that's heavy for its size, with a rich, sweet fragrance. The leaves should be green and fresh-looking. If you can pull one from the center of the stem with only slight resistance, you'll know it's ripe.

To Store
Ripe pineapple will keep at room temperature for about 2 days and in the refrigerator (either in a plastic bag or in the crisper) for about 4 days. The flesh could develop dark spots from temperature changes, so refrigerate pineapple that was bought chilled.

To Use and Cook
Slice away the spiky skin to reveal the juicy golden flesh, and cut it into chunks or rounds. Use raw pineapple in smoothies or salads, or bake in desserts. It's also wonderful for savory fare: An enzyme in pineapple breaks down protein molecules, making it a great meat tenderizer in marinades. Plus, it pairs well with fresh herbs, soy sauce, or chile peppers.

Recipe to Try: