It’s almost impossible to think of Hawaii without thinking of pineapples. Tropical, sweet, and juicy, pineapples taste of sunshine and aloha.
I decided I had to go right to the source. Enter: Maui Pineapple Tours. If you’ve ever wanted to frolic through golden pineapple fields (not really recommended – pineapples are spiky), this is the place to do it since it is the only working pineapple farm in the U.S. you can tour.
We visited the Hali’imaile Pineapple Plantation, home to the trademark Maui Gold pineapple, a variety prized for its sweet flavor and low acidity. On the tour you get to check out the packing and shipping factory, head out to the farm, and eat as much pineapple as you’d like, straight from the fields.
You will leave with sticky fingers, a Maui Gold for the road, and more knowledge about pineapples than you’ll know what to do with. Here are some tricks and tips I learned:
How do you select a good pineapple at the store?
This is tricky because, as I learned, pineapples don’t ripen any further once they’ve been picked. That’s why it’s so important for them to be picked at the optimal stage of ripeness. Once you’re in the store, you can’t go by color since a pineapple can be ripe and sweet inside even though it’s still green on the outside. And that whole, “if you can pull a leaf out from the top it’s ripe” thing is a myth. Apparently, the best way to pick a good pineapple is to do what they call a Thumb Test: flick the body of the pineapple with your thumb and middle finger. If it makes a nice hollow sound, it’s good. If you hear a dull thud, it has already started to ferment. And remember, since pineapples don’t ripen once they’ve been picked, you don’t have to wait to eat it. Dig in!
Ok, a pineapple has been selected. Now what?
First, twist the top off, don’t cut it, otherwise the juices will come out. Now, flip it upside down. The sugars are concentrated at the bottom of the fruit, so now they’ll flow down and distribute evenly throughout the pineapple.
My pineapple is now sweet all over. How do you cut a pineapple?
Start by cutting off the top and bottom so that you are left with a standing cylinder. Now cut off the sides and trim the eyes. Stand the cylinder up and cut into quarters (you should have four long wedges now). Slice down the triangular tip of each quarter to remove the core. Now, slice each piece lengthwise and cut into chunks.
How do you grow a pineapple?
Remember that crown you twisted off? Well all you have to do is pull off the outer leaves so that just the 6 to 8 big leaves near the center are left. Let this dry out for a few days. Now put it in a container with water so that just the bottom touches; no water should touch the leaves. Put it in a bright spot for a few weeks until roots develop. Then transplant the crown to a pot with soil. Place it in a bright spot and water it daily. Pour a cupful of diluted, water-soluble liquid fertilizer into the top of the plant once a month. Be patient for 18 months and you’ll be able to enjoy your Maui Gold again! Perhaps in the form of this delightful frosty cocktail…
Sweet pineapple, creamy coconut, a touch of chocolate, some boozy goodness, this frozen cocktail is like a pina colada meets chocolate milk. Fair warning: these are way too easy to drink. The Relaxer is one of the signature cocktails at Mama's Fish House in Maui. I adapted it slightly by using frozen pineapple instead of pineapple juice and ice.
- 1 oz. Bols Dark Crème de Cacao
- 1 oz. Coco Lopez Crème de Coconut
- 1 oz. vodka
- 1/2 oz. milk
- 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, cut up and frozen (or you can substitute with 1/4 cup pineapple juice + 1/2 cup ice)
- Pour half of the Bols Dark Creme de Cacao into the bottom of a tall glass.
- Blend together everything else and pour over the Dark Creme de Cacao so that it swirls up the side of glass.
- Top with a little umbrella toothpick and try not to drink too fast because you're going to want to.
Recipe Source: LickMySpoon.com.
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