Why the Queen Pineapple is King

Pineapples are versatile, delicious and full of goodness. Here are a dozen facts worth knowing.

  1. Struggling to fight off colds and flu this season? Then pick up a couple of pineapples during your next shop. They’re extremely rich in the immune-boosting Vitamin C.
  2. Pineapples are a major source of bromelain, an enzyme credited with a range of health benefits. For example, it’s regarded as an effective anti-inflammatory. Eat raw pineapple and drink freshly squeezed juice for your daily dose of bromelain.
  3. Bromelain breaks down proteins and this makes pineapple a useful meat tenderiser.
  4. Pineapple skin is an effective exfoliator (although a bit harsh for one’s face). Make a foot scrub by blending scraps and peels into a paste that you then apply to your feet. Sit back, read COUNTRY LIFE for 20 minutes, then rinse your feet. Alternatively, sprinkle sugar on the inside of the peels and use that to smooth rough skin (again, not your face).
  5. Pineapple leaves are used to make an alternative to leather. Piñatex is a flexible, light, non-woven textile that designers are using for products like shoes, bags, car-seat covers and watch straps. Made from the by-products of pineapple farming, this revolutionary textile has a low footprint, is biodegradable, vegan, durable and, it’s said, cheaper than animal-hide leather. A search failed to establish if any South African manufacturers are using it yet (If anyone knows, please tell us). Find out more about Piñatex at ananas-anam.com
  6. Pineapples grow from suckers from a mother plant, and one plant produces one pineapple. A new pineapple will also grow from a top.
  7. Pineapples belong to the Bromeliaceae (bromeliad) family and are the only edible bromeliads.
  8. Ripeness is ascertained not from the colour of a pineapple, but from the sugar levels. “We use a Brix Meter to test the sugar and this tells us when the fruit is ready to be picked,” says pineapple farmer, Casper Badenhorst of Hluhluwe. He adds that a green pineapple that’s ripe is just as sweet as a yellow one.
  9. Pineapples are native to tropical parts of South America. Two varieties are grown in South Africa: Queen Victoria and Smooth Cayenne. Queens have prickly leaves and are sweeter than Cayennes, which have smooth leaves. Queens are best eaten fresh, while Cayennes (which can weigh up to 6 kilograms) are mostly used for juicing and canning.
  10. Pineapples favour a hot, dry climate and well-drained soil. Such conditions occur in the Hluhluwe region of KZN that’s regarded as the Queen pineapple capital of the country.
  11. The Smooth Cayenne grows mainly in the Eastern Cape, particularly in the vicinity of the town of Bathurst that’s famous for its ‘Big Pineapple’ structure.
  12. Pineapple tops can be made into unusual décor items. For example, to make a candle holder, strip off a few of the bottom leaves, and one or two of the inner leaves, place the top in a jar, insert a candle, light it and, voila. An effective and cheap candle holder.

WORDS Andrea Abbot

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