Pineapples are a part of the bromeliad family. You’ve probably seen their decorative cousins in peoples’ homes and gardens. Some time ago, a friend of mine told me about white pineapple. She described it as having creamy, white flesh and an especially sweet, floral taste. It’s not as tart as regular pineapple and less woody and fibrous. This really intrigued me—I HAD to try it!
It took almost a year of asking around and searching specialty markets, but I finally found a grower in Hawaii who ships them. Called Kauai Sugarloaf Pineapple or Kona Sugarloaf Pineapple, this variety is in very limited cultivation and sold primarily in farmers’ markets in Hawaii, but you can order them online. There is also a variety of white pineapple from Nicaragua called Lirio, which is a little rounder than the Hawaiian ones, and they can be ordered from Melissa’s specialty produce. Pineapple is available fresh all year round, but peak season is March through the summer.
The flavor of these white pineapples is ambrosia! Low acid, soft and tropical—the best pineapple you have ever tasted! But be warned, they come at a stiff price. Due to the rarity and the cost of air freight, about $30 each!
White pineapple has all of the many health benefits of conventional pineapple:
Low in calories – Despite its honey-like sweetness, a cup of diced fresh pineapple has about 80 calories and lots of important nutrients.
Rich in fiber – Contains 9 percent of the RDA of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber like pectin. Fiber helps with elimination and prevents the build-up of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body.
Contains bromelain – This is an enzyme that helps break down protein into simpler substances such as amino acids and peptides that aid digestion. Bromelain has anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting and cancer-fighting properties as well. Some studies have indicated that eating pineapple regularly can help fight arthritis.
Vitamin C – A cup of fresh pineapple contains almost 70 percent of the RDA of vitamin C, which supports collagen production in the body. Collagen is a protein the body uses for repairing and maintaining blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones. Vitamin C is great at fighting infections by boosting immunity. It also helps eliminate, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
B vitamins and minerals – Pineapple contains 11 percent of the RDA for vitamins B1 and B6; 7 percent for folate, thiamin, magnesium and riboflavin. Pineapples are an excellent source for manganese (77 percent RDA), which is a free radical scavenger; copper for red blood cell synthesis and potassium, important for controlling heart rhythm and blood pressure.
How Pineapples Grow
Interestingly, pineapple is one of the few fruits that does not develop more sweetness after harvest. The bottom of a pineapple is where the sugars concentrate, so start there if you have a sweet tooth. Like all commercially grown pineapples, the Kauai Sugarloafs are seedless and are cultivated from new growth consisting of slips from the stem just below the fruit, suckers that originate at the base of the plant and the crown on top of the fruit. Fun fact: hummingbirds, which are great at pollinating pineapple plants, are forbidden to be imported into Hawaii, because pollination causes seeds to develop and no one wants seeds in their pineapple.
Mythbuster: The ability to pull a leaf from the crown, the top of the pineapple, is NOT an indication of ripeness. A ripe conventional pineapple will be turning golden yellow on the outside. The waxier rind of the Sugarloaf will be mostly green with yellow dots in the eyes at the base of the fruit.
How to Enjoy White or Any Other Pineapple
The Kauai Sugarloaf pineapples are so sweet and juicy, you’ll probably want to enjoy them simply sliced up or as a deluxe garnish for a tropical beverage. I tried a few recipes (see below) just for fun, but you don’t need to use white pineapple for them.
Pineapples go especially well with other tropical fruits such as papaya, mangoes, bananas and coconuts. Try a sprinkling of fresh mint, cilantro or Thai basil to add complexity to the sweetness. Any pineapple, but especially white ones, have high sugar content, so they caramelize beautifully on the BBQ grill and in skewers with meat, fish or chicken. Pineapple enhances all kinds of cakes, custards and other baked goods, too.
For a colorful appetizer, Pineapple Black Bean Salsa is a winner! Pineapple, beans, avocado, and other nutrient-dense ingredients combine to create a festive dish that promotes optimal energy levels, digestion, and wellbeing. This dish is also versatile. Try serving it with tortilla chips as an appetizer or use it as a sweet and spicy topping for grilled shrimp or fish. Either way, it’s sure to be a hit at your next barbecue.
½ Sugarloaf white pineapple
Crushed ice (as desired)
Note: 1/2 pineapple would make 2-3 glasses of pure slushie
COCONUT PINEAPPLE SMOOTHIE
1 cup scooped Houng Thai coconut meat or frozen young coconut meat
¼ cup coconut water
1 cup sliced white pineapple
2 cups crushed ice
1. Blend separately the pineapple and the young coconut meat (add the coconut water to coconut meat). Make sure both are smooth.
2. Then combine the pineapple and coconut meat in a blender and add 2 cups crushed ice. Blend for 1 minute to make a smoothie.
THAI SHRIMP AND PINEAPPLE CURRY
2 Tbsp. Thrive or canola oil
1 Tbs. butter
2 tsp. curry powder
1 can light coconut milk (13.5 oz.), well shaken
2 Tbs. monk fruit sugar, xylitol, or organic sugar
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. lime zest
1 Tbs. tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
1 ¼ lb. peeled and deveined tail-on raw, medium shrimp
1 ½ cups chopped white onion
1 ¼ chopped red bell pepper
2 cups of pineapple chunks
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 Tbs. chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)
3 Tbs. thinly sliced scallions
3 Tbs. chopped unsalted peanuts