Uses of Pineapple
Field ripe fruits are best for eating fresh, and it is only necessary to remove the crown, rind, eyes and core. In India, flesh of larger fruits is cut up in various ways and eaten fresh, as dessert, in salads, compotes and otherwise, or cooked in pies, cakes, puddings, or as a garnish on ham, or made into sauces or preserves. In Panama, very small pineapples are cut from the plant with a few inches of stem to serve as a handle, the rind is removed except at the base, and the flesh is eaten out-of-hand like corn on the cob. Malayans utilize the pineapple in curries and various meat dishes. In the Philippines, the fermented pulp is made into a popular sweetmeat called nata de pina. The pineapple does not lend itself well to freezing, as it tends to develop off flavors.
Canned pineapple is consumed throughout the world. The highest grade is the skinned, cored fruit sliced crosswise and packed in syrup. Undersize or overripe fruits are cut into “spears”, chunks or cubes. Surplus pineapple juice used to be discarded after extraction of bromelain. Today there is a growing demand for it as a beverage. Crushed pineapple, juice, nectar, concentrate, marmalade and other preserves are commercially prepared from the flesh remaining attached to the skin after the cutting and trimming of the central cylinder. All residual parts cores, skin and fruit ends are crushed and given a first pressing for juice to be canned as such or prepared as syrup used to fill the cans of fruit, or is utilized in confectionery and beverages, or converted into powdered pineapple extract which has various roles in the food industry. Chlorophyll from the skin and ends imparts a greenish hue that must be eliminated and the juice must be used within 20 hours as it deteriorates quickly. A second pressing yields “skin juice” which can be made into vinegar or mixed with molasses for fermentation and distillation of alcohol.
In Africa, young, tender shoots are eaten in salads. The terminal bud or “cabbage” and the inflorescences are eaten raw or cooked. Young shoots, called“hijos de pina” are sold on vegetable markets in Guatemala.
When unripe, the pineapple is not only inedible but also poisonous, irritating the throat and acting as a drastic purgative. Excessive consumption of pineapple cores has caused the formation of fiber balls (bezoars) in the digestive tract.
Bromelain: The proteolytic enzyme, bromelain, or bromelin, was formerly derived from pineapple juice; now it is gained from the mature plant stems salvaged when fields are being cleared. The yield from 368 lbs (167 kg) of stern juice is 8 lbs (3.6 kg) of bromelain. The enzyme is used like papain from papaya for tenderizing meat and chill proofing beer; is added to gelatin to increase its solubility for drinking; has been used for stabilizing latex paints and in the leather-tanning process. In modern therapy, it is employed as a digestive and for its anti-inflammatory action after surgery, and to reduce swellings in cases of physical injuries; also in the treatment of various other complaints.
Fiber: Pineapple leaves yield a strong, white, silky fiber which was extracted by Filipinos before 1591. Certain cultivars are grown especially for fiber production and their young fruits are removed to give the plant maximum vitality. The ‘Perolera’ is an ideal cultivar for fiber extraction because its leaves are long, wide and rigid. In India the thread is prized by shoemakers and it was formerly used in the Celebes. Chinese people in Kwantgung Province and on the island of Hainan weave the fiber into coarse textiles resembling grass cloth. It was long ago used for thread in Malacca and Borneo. In West Africa it has been used for stringing jewels and also made into capes and caps worn by tribal chiefs. The people of Guam hand-twist the fiber for making fine casting nets. They also employ the fiber for wrapping or sewing cigars. Pina cloth made on the island of Panay in the Philippines and in Taiwan is highly esteemed. In Taiwan they also make a coarse cloth for farmers’ underwear. The outer, long leaves are preferred. In the manual process, they are first decorticated by beating and rasping and stripping, and then left to ret in water to which chemicals may be added to accelerate the activity of the microorganisms which digest the unwanted tissue and separate the fibers. Retting time has been reduced from 5 days to 26 hours. The rested material is washed clean, dried in the sun and combed. In mechanical processing, the same machine can be used that extracts the fiber from sisal. Estimating 10 leaves to the lb (22 per kg), 22,000 leaves would constitute one ton and would yield 50-60 lbs (22-27 kg) of fiber.
Juice: Pineapple juice has been employed for cleaning machete and knife blades and, with sand, for scrubbing boat decks.
Animal Feed: Pineapple crowns are sometimes fed to horses if not needed for planting. Final pineapple waste from the processing factories may be dehydrated as “bran” and fed to cattle, pigs and chickens. “Bran” is also made from the stumps after bromelain extraction. Expendable plants from old fields can be processed as silage for maintaining cattle when other feed is scarce. The silage is low in protein and high in fiber and is best mixed with urea, molasses and water to improve its nutritional value.
Folk Medicine: Pineapple juice is taken as a diuretic and to expedite labor, also as a gargle in cases of sore throat and as an antidote for seasickness. The flesh of very young (toxic) fruits is deliberately ingested to achieve abortion (a little with honey on 3 successive mornings); also to expel intestinal worms; and as a drastic treatment for venereal diseases. Indians in Panama use the leaf juice as a purgative, emmenagogue and vermifuge. In Africa the dried, powdered root is a remedy for edema. The crushed rind is applied on fractures and the rind decoction with rosemary is applied on hemorrhoids.
The pineapple fruit with crown intact is often used as a decoration and there are variegated forms of the plant universally grown for their showiness indoors or out