Pineapple, a 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 (belonging to the Monocots). The family, which contains more than 2,000 species placed in 46 genera, is almost exclusively native to the tropics and subtropics of America with one 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
Facts on Pineapple
1. When you cut up a pineapple at home, you normally chuck the skin, core and ends in the bin. The pineapple canning industry doesn’t though; these bits are used for making alcohol, vinegar and animal feed.
2. Each pineapple plant only produces just one pineapple per year.
3. Unripe pineapples don’t just taste vile, but can actually be quite poisonous. Eating it causes serious throat irritation and it has a strong laxative effect.
4. Pineapples grow slowly, and can take up to two years to reach full size. So, we pick and eat them when they are much smaller, but if they are left to their own devices they can reach up to 9kg (20lbs).
5. If you want to speed up the ripening of a pineapple, so that you can eat it faster, then you can do it by standing it upside down (on the leafy end).
6. Traditionally pineapple juice was used as a diuretic and to induce labour.
7. The Bromelain enzyme in pineapples breaks down proteins. This means that you can use pineapple or pineapple juice as a meat tenderizer.
8. The same Bromelain enzyme means that you can’t put fresh pineapple in jelly, because it breaks down the gelatine. You can stop this from happening by boiling the chunks of pineapple in their juice or in water for a few minutes, or you can use canned pineapples.
9. In case you find yourself on a sailing trip in the tropics without any Ajax, you might like to know that pineapple juice mixed with sand is very good for cleaning boat decks and machete blades.
Written by ERU KOBE GODWIN