Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How to cut up a Pineapple

I got back late Tuesday night from the cookbook trip to find I screwed up the Tuesday Blog.  I mentioned the two recipes from last week as being the recipes for this Thursday and Friday.  That's what you get doing things in a hurry as you try to leave town.  The recipes for this week are as follows; Pineapple & Kielbasa Kebabs on Thursday and English Walnut Pie for Friday.

Last week's two recipes and the pie recipe on Friday are from friends and family.  Sorry, again, about messing up yesterday but please enjoy the rest of this week.  Here goes.

There is nothing wrong with canned pineapple when you need pineapple for a recipe.  However, it does not hold a candle to a fresh pineapple.  I love to eat pineapple just plain right after cutting it.  But to really bring out the flavor in a fresh pineapple, it needs to be grilled.  Now I'll just cut wedges or even circles and throw them on the grill.  It has to do with the heat and fire bringing out the sugar in the pineapple that enhances the taste.

So let's talk about cutting up a pineapple.  The first thing you want to do is pick out a great fresh one.  A ripe pineapple should have just a little give to it when you squeeze it with your fingers.  You don't want one that is like a rock.  Another test for a ripe pineapple is to pull on green leaves.  You should be able to pull one out with a little effort.  If they don't come out at all, it may not be ripe enough.  If they come out really easy, they may be over ripe.  Which one you want may depend on how soon you plan to use it.

To cut up a pineapple you will need a good sized cutting board and a sharp chef or santoku knife.  Lay the pineapple on its side and slice off the top of the pineapple about 1/2 inch below the green leaves.  Then cut off the bottom again about 1/2 inch into the pineapple.  This gives you a solid base to safely cut off the sides of the pineapple.

Once you have cut the bottom off, place that cut bottom on the cutting board to start cutting the sides away from the pineapple.  Take your knife and cut about 1/4 inch inside the skin of the pineapple going from top to bottom.  You will notice that the pineapple's side curves slightly and you need to follow that natural curve as you slice down the side.  The width of your slice will only be one to two inches wide.  So continue to work your way around the pineapple until all the side skin has been cut away.

There may be little eyelets that did not get cut away.  If they are big or you want the pineapple totally clean of the eyelet, use a paring knife to cut them out.  A few small ones are not going to cause a problem.

There is a center core that is not good to eat and needs to be removed at some point.  You can turn the pineapple on its side and slice circles off at whatever thickness you desire.  These circles can be grilled and served as is but the end user will have to cut the edible part away from that center core to eat.

The pineapple can be sliced in half from top to bottom and the core removed with a smaller knife.  You can just cut long wedges off the whole cleaned pineapple and work your way around the pineapple as you did when skinning it.  Either way, you can now cut the pineapple into bite size pieces or whatever you want for your need.  I'll grill long wedges or the circles depending on the use I have in mind.

I'm sure you have noticed in grocery stores that they offer fresh pineapple that has been skinned and cored.  It is more expensive but convenient.  They sell equipment that will let you do the same thing the stores does but it is expensive.  I've never looked to see but my favorite shopping sites Kohl'sFood Network and QVC  may offer them.  Check it out.

Enjoy working with and eating your fresh pineapple.

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