Cutting up a whole pineapple can feel like a daunting task. Its prickly exterior seems to ward off invaders of its delightfully sweet insides. It is not, however, as difficult a task as it seems. Although there is no miracle “quick” way to free the bright yellow fruit from its bristly skin, here are the steps for making it a less discouraging experience.
Start with a ripe pineapple. Ripe will be easier to cut. How do you know?
- Smell the butt. Bad advice in the context or humans and animals, however in the case of pineapples, this is the first tell-tale sign to determine sweetness. If the bottom of the pineapple smells sweet, it is ripe. If there is no odor, it is not ready. If the smell is fermented or vinegary, that’s bad news, because it’s over ripe.
- Watch for color. The best pineapples have a yellow or golden color. The higher the yellow rises from the bottom to the top, the more sweetness it will have. (Note: Once harvested, pineapples don’t continue to ripen.)
- Pluck a leaf. If you can easily pull out one of the center leaves at the top, it is ripe.
Another tip: Use a sharp serrated knife. Pineapple is fairly fibrous as well as juicy, so it can be slippery. A serrated blade makes your job of cutting easier. And don’t worry about getting every little piece of the pineapple’s “eyes” (brown spots) cut off. It may be more esthetically pleasing to have them removed, but personally, we don’t believe it’s worth the effort to remove them all—and they won’t hurt you. (Neither will the core; it actually has some great health benefits, but can be very woody, so you may want to cut it off.)
Getting the Job Done
- Trim off the top. Be generous with your slice; the top of the pineapple can be woody and fibrous.
- Trim off the bottom. Again, be generous.
- Trim the sides. Stand the pineapple on its end and slide down the sides in a slightly curved motion, following the curve of the fruit. Work your way around taking off just enough so there is no dark green or brown skin remaining.
- Split lengthwise. Keep the pineapple standing on its end and split each half lengthwise again into quarters.
- Trim the core. Like the top and bottom, the core can be very woody so it’s best to remove it. Stand the pineapple quarter on end and use the knife to feel where the fibers start to “give” more.
- Slice quarters up into desired size/shape pieces and serve!