Monday, 15 October 2007

Peeling Pineapples (Piña)

In my first few months here in UK (back in the mid-90s), I missed Asian food so much that I was always scouring the aisles of our local supermarket for anything mildly Oriental or Southeast Asian. You could just imagine my delight when I saw a stack of fresh pineapples (pinya or piña in Tagalog/Spanish) in our local supermarket. What's more, it's got a sign saying that they will peel it for free. I thought that would save me a lot of effort and time so off I went and bought one. The lady on the counter got my pineapple, chopped off the top and bottom, sat it on a metal contraption with a big lever. Then she got hold of the lever pulled it down in one big motion - whoosh! Out came my pineapple in a perfect cylindrical shape with a hole in the middle looking exactly like what you get from cans. Well, at least it was done in no time at all but I have to lament the large amount of wasted pineapple! I'm one person who hates waste and I was just flabbergasted with how much was taken off it.

As an alternative I'll show you how pineapple is peeled in the Philippines wherein you can get the most out of your 'multi-eyed' fruit. See the series of pictures below on how you can peel your pineapple. It may take a bit more time but the satisfaction of having a more aesthetically pleasing and less wasteful way of doing things will surely encourage you to try this.

[Click on the pictures for a bigger view]

First off you start with your pineapple. Have a chopping board and a sharp knife ready.

how to peel pineapples
Chop off both ends. If you're using this as a centre-piece in a buffet table, don't take off the leafy end to make it more interesting and exotic looking plus making sure that the bottom is level.

how to peel pineapples
Now slice off the skin from top to bottom taking off just enough to expose the flesh.

how to peel pineapples
Once you have peeled off all of the skin you will be left with just the 'eyes' or 'dots' that go deep into the flesh. We're now ready to connect the 'dots'. The idea is to remove the eyes without cutting out too much of the flesh. If you have a melon baller you can scoop out the eyes one by one thereby making it even less wasteful. But if you only have knife read on ...

If you notice the eyes are arranged by nature so that they have natural diagonal alignments. The lines they form are either slanted left to right or right to left. Choose one of the lines to follow (I usually take the less slanted one). Now, connect the eyes along the line that you chose by making a V-shaped canal with your sharp knife (usually you connect two eyes at a time).

how to peel pineapples
Do this for all the eyes until you get a nicely patterned fruit as shown above.

how to peel pineapples
To serve, slice vertically along the core of the pinapple into wedges. Best served chilled with a little salt on the side. Yum!

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