A native of tropical America, the pine-apple is now also grown in Hawaii (the most intensive producer in the world of the fruit), Malaya, Australia, Africa and many other tropical regions of the world. It is one of the most delicious of tropical fruit.

A yellow or orange spiny skin encloses the pale or clear yellow flesh of the pine-apple. A ripe pineapple is slightly soft to the touch and has a pleasantly strong, fragrant smell. Pineapple juice is sold canned and makes a refreshing drink.

Pineapples are exported fresh and canned. Canned pineapples are sold in slices, chunks, tidbits and crushed. The flavour of fresh pineapple is altered by canning, but good quality canned pine-apple retains some of the texture of fresh pineapple.

Pineapple may be eaten raw, used in cold desserts, on its own or with other fruit in flans, gateaux, ice-creams, Bavarian creams and hot and cold souffles.

Pineapples are also used in savoury dishes, with grilled pork, ham and gammon and in sweet and sour sauces, for instance.

To prepare a fresh pineapple, place the pineapple on a chopping board and, using a sharp knife, cut a 1-inch slice from the top and from the bottom.

Stand the pineapple upright and, using a sawing motion, cut thick strips down-wards. Turn the pineapple on its side and cut out the prickly pieces or ‘eyes’ either in a spiral, following the contours of the fruit, or in straight lines. Still holding the pineapple on its side, cut it into thick slices, crosswise. Using a small pastry cutter or knife, remove the core, which is hard and inedible.

To prepare a pineapple so that its outer casing can be used as a container for a dessert or salad, place the pineapple on its side on a board, cut a 1-inch slice from the top of the pineapple and reserve it. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of the pineapple so that it stands firmly. With a serrated knife, cut between the flesh and the peel, following the contours of the pineapple until the flesh can be released from the peel. Chill the case and the flesh for 1 hour in the refrigerator. Cut the flesh into chunks, remove any prickly bits and return it to the pineapple case with other fruit or ingredients. Replace the top of the pineapple and serve immediately.

Pineapple can also be cut in half or quarters lengthways, retaining the leaves. The flesh is then scooped out and the halves or quarters used as containers for any fruit, vegetable or meat and pine-apple mixture.

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