How to Tell If a Pineapple Is Ripe Before Buying It

We asked a pineapple farmer to share tips for picking a pineapple that's ready to eat.

Knowing how to tell if a pineapple is ripe is not easy. Unlike with some fruit—like fresh tomatoes or bananas—using the texture of a pineapple is not a good way to tell if it's ripe, explains Emanuela Vinciguerra, a pineapple farmer and educator at Kumu Farms, which grows tropical fruit on the Hawaiian Islands of Molokai and Maui.

"For pineapple, it's not really the feel," Vinciguerra says. "Even when it's really ripe, it's kind of hard." So how do you know when a pineapple is ready to eat? Skip the squeeze test and use these tips for picking a ripe and sweet pineapple so you can enjoy the immune-boosting benefits of eating pineapple.

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Tug the Leaves

A single pineapple usually has between 30 and 40 spiky dark green leaves, which bear some similarities to agave and succulents. On an unripe pineapple, these tough leaves will be firmly embedded into the pineapple and difficult to remove without tugging hard. But as a pineapple ripens, the leaves change.

"If you are able to take off one of its leaves easily—boop—that's a sign that it's ripe," Vinciguerra says. Pulling a leaf until it detaches should "not be a struggle. It should come off easily," Vinciguerra adds.

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Smell the Bottom

Unripe pineapples lack aroma, Vinciguerra says. On the other hand, fully ripe pineapples have a unique and easily detectable smell. When smelling the bottom for ripeness, look for a sweet, rich scent, similar to the bright, tropical, sugary spirit of the ripe fruit's flavor.

When there's a "sweet smell," Vinciguerra adds, there's a "sweet taste." A sweet smell can also indicate that the pineapple won't be as acidic. A lot of the acidic notes will have mellowed with ripeness, allowing fruity nuances to shine.

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Check for Yellow

At supermarkets, pineapples often appear green. Green pineapples are underripe. A pineapple is ripe and ready once it has turned yellowish—not a smidge, but a good portion of the fruit.

Vinciguerra explains: "When at least one side has yellow color...that's the best tip." Don't cut your pineapple until it has lost most, if not all, of its green.

How to Store Pineapple

Should you put pineapples in the refrigerator? "Never!" Vinciguerra says. Vinciguerra recommends keeping green pineapples on a counter and out of the fridge—no exceptions. "When the fruit is ripe, and it has turned all yellow, that's the only time you can put a pineapple in the fridge."

You can place a whole ripe pineapple, uncovered, in the fridge. For cut pineapple, place the fruit in food containers to store in the refrigerator. You can also freeze diced or sliced pineapple in freezer-friendly containers or bags.

Vinciguerra suggests eating refrigerated pineapple within a tight window—three to five days maximum. And keep it in the crisper until you're ready to eat. Frozen pineapple will keep longer—up to a year if stored properly.

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