Sugar Loaf Pineapple
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|Food Buzz: History of Pineapples|
|Food Fable: Pineapples|
Sugarloaf pineapples are cylindrical in shape, slightly tapering at the crown, and they weigh an average of 4 to 6 pounds. Their thin and waxy rind is tough, yet somewhat softer than most other pineapple varieties, and it will remain a vibrant green color even when ripe, with golden yellow to orange tones at the centers of its hexagonal segments. Sugarloaf pineapples are topped with a tight grouping of smooth, stiff, pointed-tipped leaves, and their rind is covered in small, soft spikes. Their white flesh is extremely juicy with a floral aroma and a creamy, non-stringy texture. The flavor is exceedingly sweet with hints of honey, and almost no acidity. The edible core is just as sweet to the taste, and unlike other varieties, it is not woody or fibrous.
Sugarloaf pineapples are available year-round, with a peak season in mid-to-late summer.
Sugarloaf pineapples are botanically classified as Ananas comosus, and are members of the Bromeliad family. Their name comes from the traditional cone-like form, sugarloaf, in which refined sugar was produced until sugar cubes and granulated sugar were introduced in the late 19th century. Sugarloaf pineapples are often called Pan de Azucar in South America, and are also known as Kona pineapples, Kona Sugarloaf, or Brazilian White pineapples. Sugarloaf pineapples grown in Hawaii are seedless, as are other pineapple varieties grown on the islands. In order to maintain this quality, the state forbids the import of hummingbirds, which are the main pollinators of the fruit. Today, Sugarloaf pineapples are exported all over the globe, although availability of this variety is most common in its growing regions.
Sugarloaf pineapples are an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of potassium, calcium, vitamin C and fiber. They also contain magnesium, phosphorus, copper, folate, and vitamins B1 and B6. Their overall nutritional content provides digestive and immune support, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits.
Sugarloaf pineapples are most often used raw, though they can be used in cooked applications. When selecting a Sugarloaf pineapple, it will feel heavy for its size thanks to its high sugar content, as sugar weighs more than water. Fresh Sugarloaf pineapple can be sliced and eaten as is, and also juiced or pureed for smoothies and other cocktails or beverages. It can be added to salads, used in baked goods, or cooked as a topping for custards and cheesecakes, as its high sugar content lends well to caramelizing. Pair Sugarloaf pineapples with other tropical fruits like banana, coconut or papaya, as well as herbs like mint, Thai basil and cilantro. The sweetness of Sugarloaf pineapples can be used to balance warm spices like cinnamon and ginger, or heat from jalapeno and cayenne pepper. Pineapples ripen from the bottom up, so the lower portion may be sweeter. To balance the sweetness throughout the fruit, remove the crown then cover and store the fruit upside-down in the refrigerator for a day or two before use. Fresh Sugarloaf pineapple is highly perishable, and will keep at room temperature for just a few days. To extend its shelf life, store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or cut and freeze pieces for up to about 6 months. Fresh, cut pieces can also be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about 5 days.
Sugarloaf pineapples are economically important in two distinct growing regions: the Hawaiian island of Kauai, and the small coastal African country, Benin. In Kauai, Kona Sugarloaf pineapples are grown primarily by three family-owned farms, and exported to the other islands as well as some areas of the mainland. The pineapple industry in the Republic of Benin began around 1985, and has since stretched into Ghana, Togo, and parts of Nigeria. In 2014, the Nigerian government instituted a program called “Agribusiness Opportunities in Pineapple Production for Unemployed Youths” in an effort to help reduce poverty, increase food security, boost exporting profits, and bridge the gap between supply and demand. The United States Department of Agriculture does not allow exports of pineapples from Hawaii to certain states on the mainland and vice versa to Hawaii from the mainland.
Pineapples originated in South America. Explorers and traders transported them to Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands, where Christopher Columbus came upon them in 1493 on the island of Guadeloupe, and later introduced the fruit into Spain. By the end of the 16th century, Spanish and Portuguese explorers had brought pineapples to West Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. It wasn’t until the early 19th century that the fruit was first planted in Hawaii. Some say that white pineapple cultivars like Sugarloaf originated in West Africa, while others believe that it was a natural mutation of a smooth cayenne variety discovered on the Hawaiian island of Lanai. Today, Sugarloaf pineapples grow in Hawaii, southern Florida, West Africa, Rwanda, and parts of South America. Sugarloaf pineapples will only grow in areas with ample rainfall and temperatures that do not dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Recipes that include Sugar Loaf Pineapple. One is easiest, three is harder.
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