Monday, 13 August 2012
The Pineapple Part 1
The following information was collected from a variety of sources including Fran Beauman on BBC Radio’s ‘Museum of Curiosity’, her book ‘The Pineapple: The King of Fruits’ and websites such as http://www.mindspring.com/~sixcatpack/pineappl.htm .
Pineapples are indigenous to South America, originating from the area between Southern Brazil and Paraguay. Christopher Columbus brought them back to Europe from Guadalupe in 1493 and it was the Spanish who introduced them into the Philippines, Hawaii, Zimbabwe and Guam. The fruit was spread around the world on sailing ships that carried them for protection against scurvy.
Pineapples became extremely fashionable in Europe. By the mid 17th century they were grown in English hothouses and eight hundred were grown in Louis V’s vegetable garden hot houses at Versailles. Market gardeners asked very high prices because of the great cost of growing them. They quickly became a status symbol among the wealthy in England at a cost of £5,000 each. They were rarely eaten, but taken to parties to show off and pass around. In North America you could rent a pineapple to impress your dinner guests. Due to the difficulties of growing pineapples in cold climates and the expense of importing them, they remained an expensive delicacy until after the advent of the steamship, and after World War II.
Image from http://vintageprintable.swivelchairmedia.com/botanical/botanical-educational-charts-and-plates/botanical-educational-charts-and-plates-2/
Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromalyne which is “flesh eating”. In the 18th century someone died of eating too much pineapple and apparently workers in pineapple factories lose their fingerprints! That’s why it makes such an effective meat tenderiser.
Large-scale pineapple cultivation by U.S. companies began in the early 1900s on Hawaii. The Philippines is currently the largest producer of pineapples commercially.
Growcom Australia’s http://www.australianpineapples.com.au/index.asp?p=12 is a great website with information on the pineapple industry in Australia (and some delicious looking recipes!)