Tropical Pineapple and Mangoes
This is our third and final installment on tropical fruit. Join Earl and the hosts of An Organic Conversation this weekend as they spend a full hour discussing in depth Pineapples, Mangos, Bananas and Cherimoyas.
Organic pineapples are available year round although supply can be affected at times by heavy rains. The main areas of production are the Philippines, Costa Rica, Thailand and Brazil. On the West Coast we mostly get Costa Rican pineapple, as they have year round production, and fantastic quality and flavorful fruit. Mexico typically has some pineapple as well between December and May, although they generally are not as sweet or tasty as the Costa Rican. Hawaiian pineapples are rarely available, although quite desirable and delicious!
The MD2 pineapple is the most commercially produced pineapple variety and made its debut in the mid-1980s in Costa Rica. Chances are, this is what you have been eating when you buy a pineapple. It was developed to be cylindrical in shape, and have exceptional sweetness. Conventional pineapple are often gassed/sprayed to display a yellow exterior. This has nothing to do with the eating quality of flavor profile of the fruit, but makes the consumer think it’s riper and sweeter.
Pineapples are one of the most difficult fruit to tell when they are ripe. We have never been able to find a sure fire way to tell when a pineapple is ripe. In reality it is almost impossible but the best way to tell ripeness is by the fragrant smell at the base of the fruit. Some of the other ways we have found to be true are to look for a bright gold color around the “eyes” at the base of the pineapple. The higher up the golden yellow color goes the more even the flavor will be. Avoid wrinkled skin, a reddish/bronze color and a vinegar smell, all signs the pineapple is over ripe. We would love to hear how you determine if a pineapple is ripe. Post your comments on our Facebook page.
Tips On Storing And Cutting A Pineapple:
Pineapples can be stored on the counter if you plan to eat them within 2 days. We do not recommend storing any tropical fruit under 55 degrees because this can discolor the flesh and affect the flavor. Do not store in the refrigerator because the average temperature is around 38 degrees.
There is no need for a fancy gadget to core your pineapple. Lay the pineapple on its side and cut off the top and bottom with a sharp knife. Slice the rest of the pineapple into rings about 1 inch thick. Lay the rings on the cutting board and using a paring knife gently go around the inside of the skin until the fruit pops out. I like to cut the entire piece of fruit up but if the core is too tough for you it is good frozen and added to a smoothie.
Pineapple do not ripen after they are harvested!
Contrary to popular belief the ease with which leaves can be pulled out is not a sure sign of ripeness.
The small kidney shaped Atualfo Mango and the Kent mango are the two main varieties we see during this time of year. The Atualfo mango has a vibrant yellow golden color and the delicious flavor and absence of stringy fibers make it a huge hit. The pit is very thin which means there is more flesh to eat. As the Ataulfo becomes ripe the skin turns a deep golden color and begins to wrinkle. Ataulfos are ready to eat when the fruit yields to slight pressure. They should be left at room temperature until they are ready to eat. Ataulfos are also known as Honey, Manila, Yellow, Baby and Champagne mangos.
Kent mangos have an almost completely smooth flesh with very little fibers. Kent’s are not covered in the typical red blush we associate with a ripe mango. The outside skin is mostly green and yellow with a little red blush, but don’t let the color throw you off. Kents are absolutely delicious with a vibrant flavor, juicy, smooth and very sweet flesh. Kent mangos will have a yellow undertone with speckled dots as they are ripening. The mango will feel soft to the touch and yield to gentle pressure when ripe. Slight wrinkling of the skin is also a good thing and another sign of ripeness.
The Ataulfo and Kent mangos main production areas are Peru, Mexico and Ecuador. We are just now wrapping up the Peruvian season with the Kent as the main variety. We will have Peruvian Kents for another 2 weeks or so. There was a smaller crop this year compared to last year. Volume is down by about 50% due to early season rains followed by extreme heat in Peru. This year the Peruvian season has also been challenged by strikes at the West Coast ports.
After Peru is done, we start the Mexican season where we travel the months of March to September from Chiapas at the border of Guatemala up to Sinaloa and Baja California in the north. From the many different regions in Mexico we enjoy the Ataulfo, Tommy Atkins, Hadens, Kents and Keitts. September to November we have the spectacular California Keitt. Some people regard this as the best mango of the year. It is grown in Coachella and is a big size fruit with great flavor and aroma. The last mango of the year goes back to South America with Ecuador and the Tommy Atkins, Kent and Ataulfo.
The next variety we can expect in Mid-March is the Tommy Atkins from Mexico. We will continue to explore other varieties as they arrive at Earl’s.
Mangos are the most widely consumed fruit in the world with thousands of cultivars.