How to Tell if a Pineapple Is Ripe?

Published Categorized as Food

1. It’s yellow, 2. Leaves fall easily, 3. It’s firm but a bit soft, 4. It smells sweet. Pineapples usually take a couple of days to ripen.

Pineapple is one of those fruits we all think we know. I’ll unabashedly add pineapple to pizza! Attempt a pad thai, squeeze it into juice, garnish a cocktail, or add it to a fruit salad.

And even if I don’t do all those things, it does look cool in a fruit bowl, towering above the other fruits like some kind of citrus king.

But when we’re not buying it from a tin or eating it as part of a meal at a restaurant, we realize they have a few quirks.

I have at times messed up with pineapples—I’ve either cut them too soon or too late—a big waste!

For this article, I was hoping to find an unripe pineapple and show how it would change over time to ripen.

I got the greenest one I could find—it only had a few green areas left, and much of it had changed to a shade of yellow. So, that idea mostly went out the window.

Nevertheless, here’s what you need to know.

How Do You Tell if a Pineapple Is Ripe From the Outside?

The easiest way to tell if a pineapple is ripe is its yellowish color—arguably, it’s more a shade of orange.

The simplest thing to remember is that green pineapples are not ripe. Leave them a day or two on the counter and only cut when the green has disappeared.

Pineapple skin with green and yellow patches.
This pineapple is almost ripe with just a few small green areas.

Unripe pineapples can be toxic. Tastemade says, “Eating it would cause throat irritation and would have a strong laxative effect.” They will also taste horrible.

How to Tell if a Pineapple Is Ripe by the Leaves?

If you’re not sure about the color of the pineapple, you can tell if it’s ripe by pulling at the leaves (or as they are better known, ‘fronds’).

If the leaves come out easily, the pineapple is ripe and ready. If the leaves are firm and hard to pull out, the pineapple is not yet ripe.

Pineapple leaf (frond).
This leaf could have come a little easier, but it wasn’t difficult to pull.

I have bought pineapples before and I pulled it from its spiky top and the whole thing came off. Good thing I wasn’t planning on eating the leaves.

And if you’re still not sure if you should cut let alone eat that pineapple, a couple of other signs that a pineapple is ripe are:

  • Its texture—it should be firm but with a bit of bounce. Give it a squeeze, if it’s rock solid that means it’s not ripe yet.
  • It smells like a pineapple—give it a sniff. Does it have that familiar sweet smell of a pineapple? If it doesn’t have a distinct smell, it can be a sign that it might not be ripe yet.

How Long Do Pineapples Last in the Fridge?

While most of us instinctively leave uncut pineapple on the countertop, according to Master Class, the fridge can extend its life by up to three days to a total of six after ripening.

And interestingly, storing sliced pineapple in an airtight container can last from five to seven days in the fridge. Storage-wise, slicing up a pineapple is probably more practical than putting the whole fruit in the fridge.

But do note, only put pineapples in the fridge if they are ripe. If the pineapple is yet to reach the right stage of ripeness, leave it out of the fridge!

Pineapple pieces in the fridge.
These pineapple pieces will be used on a Hawaiian pizza later.

How Do You Know When a Pineapple Is Overripe?

So, what about overripe pineapples? Is it possible you might forget about your ripening pineapple on your tabletop and end up with an ‘overripe’ pineapple?

According to an article by Andrew Krosofsky of Green Matters, there are several signs that pineapple could be overripe. They include:

  • Drier exterior.
  • Browning of the leaves—or may be falling out.
  • A soggy or wet bottom where juices have begun to leak.

Can You Get Sick From Overripe Pineapple?

Overripe pineapple is safe to eat, it just might not look so appealing on the outside. Be sure to cut overripe pineapple open to be sure it hasn’t gone from ‘overripe’ to ‘rotten’.

If you have a sensitive stomach, though, you may want to avoid overripe pineapple

What to Do With Overripe Pineapple?

Generally speaking, the fruit part should be fine, but the exterior might not be so appealing. So, you’ll probably want to separate them from the fruit, especially if you want to serve it.

You should then take a look at the inside and cut away any parts that are too soft or don’t look fresh.

If you’re not sure if your overripe pineapple is okay to eat, play it safe and throw it out.

What Does Mold Look Like on Pineapple?

When I took my partially ripe pineapple home from the store, I noticed something a bit odd when I got home—it looked like the leaves were molding.

Moldy pineapple leaves.

I assume that this is more to do with how the pineapple was stored than its condition. How could it be both ripe and overripe?

Indeed, pineapples are harvested ‘semi-ripe’ so they can arrive in stores just as they turn ripe. And it is possible that while they are being shipped, some may get too moist.

Luckily for me, the USDA has pretty much already explained this in a document called ‘Shipping Point and Market Inspection Instructions for Pineapples’.

On page 18 it says, “Even though the mold does not affect the flesh it may affect the appearance of the fruit.” Suggesting that external mold doesn’t mean the pineapple is off.

It says that the location of the mold is also noted when pineapples are inspected, with “most mold affecting tops, some affecting fruit.”

So, don’t immediately assume that a build-up of mold on the hard surface of the pineapple means it’s a goner.

As long as mold doesn’t reach the core of the pineapple, it is okay. If the core is rotten, it’s doomed and belongs in the trash—or to be composted.

But that’s not all the USDA says. They also have a scoring guide:

  • 10% mold—is considered an ‘injury’.
  • 25% mold—is considered ‘damage’.
  • 50% mold—is considered ‘serious damage’.

So, you may want to bear this in mind the next time you buy a pineapple.

By Craig Britton

As children, we’re told not to play with our food. But I find that food tastes best when you experiment with it. I love trying out new recipes and cooking techniques almost as much as I love eating the end result.

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