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Summer Ingredient Essentials: Pineapple

"In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue," says the song.  Lucky us; it was also the year he discovered pineapples on New World shores. And while pretty to look at with their bright green leaves and golden scaled skin, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Supporting your immune system with every bite, pineapple is a vitamin C powerhouse providing over 100% of your daily needs in every 80 calorie cup. Rich in manganese, copper and folate with a gram of protein and over 2 grams of fiber per cup, it is a great addition to any healthy diet. Available almost year round, they are at their peak during the summer.

How do I pick the best pineapple?

Start by looking for a pineapple that is plump, full and heavy for its size. Don’t worry too much about color as it is not an indicator of ripeness. Instead, make sure that the leaves on the crown are bright green and fresh looking and that the fruit is firm to the touch. Unlike most fruits, pineapples do not ripen after they are picked, so choose carefully at the market. Pass on any fruits that smell sour or have soft spots, bruising or cuts.

What can I make with pineapple?

There is so much you can do with pineapple. In the sweet department, add fresh pineapple to cakes for a tropical surprise and to your morning smoothies for a touch of sugar and a Vitamin C kick! From tarts and jellies to cookies and sorbets, you can't go wrong.

Pineapple is also great in savory dishes. A cheesy tart with heirloom tomatoes and pineapple is a real treat, while pineapple fried rice with citrus pork marries sweet and savory to perfection. Pair smokey grilled pineapple with steak or make a spicy pineapple salsa to top off chicken tacos. The scrumptious possibilities abound when you have pineapple in the kitchen.

How do I prepare fresh pineapple?

To prep your pineapple, first cut off the crown and the bottom. Next, stand the pineapple upright and carefully cut away the outer scaled layer going just deep enough to cut out the eyes. Cut the pineapple into quarters lengthwise, then cut into each quarter on an angle to remove and discard the core. Finally, chop into chunks, slice and dice as needed!

Uncut pineapple can be left at room temperature for 2-3 days. For longer storage, place uncut pineapple in the refrigerator to remain fresh for up to one week. Cut pineapple will stay fresh up to three days in the fridge and up to one year in the freezer if packed in an airtight container.

Recipes to try include: Pineapple and Cucumber Guacamole, Pineapple Mojito, Pineapple Basil Paletas and Grilled Pork and Pineapple Skewers.

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