Some historical and nutritional facts about pineapples in France. Including benefits of eating pineapple, a serving suggestion plus easy and healthy French dessert recipes.
Winter – Spring; October to April.
Random Facts on Pineapples
- A bit of history: Christopher Columbus discovers pineapple in 1493 in Guadaloupe and it reaches the Spanish court in the 16th century. It’s not until the 17th century that it’s popular amongst royalty and the aristocracy. Like the royal courts in Holland and the UK, in France, Louis XIV’s botanist, La Quintinye, grows the exotic fruit in greenhouses at the Potager du Roi in Versailles. Its popularity is such that it’s the most popular exotic fruit in Europe;
- However, it’s so expensive it is seen as a sign of wealth: in the 18th century, French noble families would often hire a pineapple just to show it off at the table (I picked that one up on a guided tour in Versailles)
- The queen of pineapples is the Victoria pineapple – smaller than the others (Cayenne or Sweet) and most concentrated in flavour. Its name comes from Queen Victoria, who particularly adored pineapple. The best are found on Île de la Réunion;
- What is the meaning of Pineapple (Ananas)? Said to resemble a pine cone, the word pineapple in French, Ananas, is believed to come from South America. The Incas originally called them “Nana”, meaning fragrance or parfum. Not to be confused with the French slang expression, Nana, meaning a girl;
- What are the benefits of eating pineapple? According to Aprifel, pineapples are high in vitamin C, vitamin B9 and Manganese; High in fibre, it also includes an enzyme called Bromelaine which helps aid our digestion of protein;
- Pineapple side effects? As my husband grew up in the Ivory Coast for 17 years, the enzymes are apparently not good for the teeth if eaten in huge quantities. So, if you plan on having a huge pineapple feast, brush your teeth after consuming them;
- How to choose: the best pineapples should be heavy and fragrant. It should be firm but slightly soft to show it’s ripe. Ensure there are no marks. Don’t worry about the pineapple’s colour, as this isn’t a factor for choosing – each variety has a different shade.
- How to store: as it’s an exotic, sunny fruit, avoid storing in the fridge if possible and consume as soon as possible – ideally within 5-6 days.
Here’s a serving idea, thanks to a training course I had with chef Frédéric Jaunault (Meilleur Ouvrier de France, specialist in fruits and vegetables). He served an exotic fruit salad in an upside down, directly on its leaves. Cut it horizontally, hollow out half of it and mix with other exotic fruits, lime juice, ginger and a hint of Cayenne spice. Scoop out the inside flesh using a grapefruit knife or a long serrated bread knife.
Alternatively, pineapple is also great served with savoury. Chop up the fruit into chunks and fry with a Caribbean style chicken curry and serve in the same way above. Also goes well with duck and hams.
Pineapple Valentine Hearts
For your Valentine, pineapple slices are perfect to surprise your loved ones. Forget the classic round hole: cut out love hearts in the centre! See them in this Pineapple Condé Dessert.