The Easy Way to Pick a Perfect Pineapple Every Time

illustration of a pineapple with a tropical drink inside it
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis

Since it's June, we're in the mood to snack on some sweet, succulent pineapple, preferably while lounging in a hammock on a tropical beach. Aside from tasting really good, pineapples are also dense in nutrients essential for immune, heart, and digestive health. Though it tastes best when freshly sliced at home, pineapple's prickly exterior can intimidate us into opting for a pre-cut packaged version. When it comes to navigating the produce aisle at the grocery store or local farmers market, knowing how to pick the right fruit ahead of time makes all the difference. And it makes an even bigger difference in the kitchen when you're ready to cook with your new purchases.

So with this in mind, we decided to research the foolproof, yet simple ways to pick a healthy pineapple. It turns out that it's actually pretty easy once you know what to look for, so we'll walk you through the steps to choosing the best one and then share a few of our favorite summer recipes that put the spotlight on pineapple. Scroll through to master steps to picking the perfect pineapple, and then head to the kitchen to make the three vacation-ready recipes below.

Step 1: Sniff the Bottom

The butt of the pineapple is where all the nutrients and sugars come from, so it's the most fragment section of the fruit. Many people think it comes from the crown of the pineapple since that's the most decorative section, but that's actually the last part of the fruit to ripen. So, if you want to see if it's ready, simply sniff the bottom of the fruit. A ripe pineapple should smell sweet, while a fragrance-free pineapple isn't ready to go home with you yet. A vinegar-like scent means it's rotten.

Step 2: Inspect the Color

A perfect pineapple should have golden skin, but sometimes it can be tricky to tell if it's too ripe since green hues are also healthy. Look out for hints of green specks on the flesh of the pineapple, because if it's only yellow and beginning to go brown, that means it's past its prime. On the other hand, an entirely green pineapple means it will be a bit too firm. The golden rule is to make sure there's enough yellow coloring toward the crown rather than the other way around.

Step 3: Feel the Flesh

You'll know a pineapple is rotten on the inside if the flesh is slightly wrinkly and beginning to shrivel up. Sometimes it's less obvious, though, in which case, give it a light tap. If it feels mushy at all, then it's probably rotten. A mushy consistency shouldn't be mistaken for a flexible fruit, though. In other words, if it reacts ever so slightly when you press it, that's a good sign that it is ripe and ready to enjoy.

The Pineapple Breakfast or Snack Recipe: Tropical Smoothie

Tropical Smoothie
The First Mess

This roasted pineapple "milkshake" from The First Mess is packed with healthy ingredients like turmeric, which is an amazing natural anti-inflammatory. Just add cinnamon and nutmeg for a spicy, sweet flavor, and then fill it out with creamy almond milk and ice. It's the perfect treat to sip poolside for an afternoon snack or enjoy for breakfast before work.

The Summer Entrée Recipe: Pineapple Tacos

Pineapple Tacos
Half Baked Harvest

These healthy fish tacos from Half Baked Harvest call for jalapeños for a kick of spice, a slice of pineapple for sweetness, and a squeeze of lime for that citrusy twist to balance out all the flavors. Not only are these tacos delicious and filling, but they're also light and refreshing, so you can make this meal any time of day, for any occasion. Now pass the piña, please. 

The Happy Hour and Dessert Recipe: Piña Colada Pops

Piña Colada Pops
Minimalist Baker

What could be a better way to unwind than by indulging in some piña colada pops? This popsicle recipe from Minimalist Baker will hit the spot every time, so it's definitely worth trying at your next happy hour or dinner party. 

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