Aloha, Garden Guy — I have a white pineapple patch and it is producing many pineapples. I do not know how to tell when a white pineapple is ripe.
I have been told once you pick a white pineapple, it will not continue to ripen. I also was told you cannot tell by the smell if a white pineapple is ripe. I picked one pineapple that was a dark purple color and it weighed 6 pounds, but it was not fully ripe.
Can you help me determine when a white pineapple is ready to pick? I researched white pineapple and there is very little information available about the fruit. Thank you so much. — L.S.
The following information is applicable to pineapple varieties presently available in the Hawaii marketplace, yellow or white.
Select a pineapple that is plump and fresh-looking. The leaves in the crown should be fresh and green and the body of the pineapple firm. A larger fruit won’t necessarily be better tasting or riper than a smaller one.
According to Maui Land and Pineapple Company, pineapples, unlike bananas, do not ripen after harvest. They might advance in shell color, but they do not get any sweeter; they actually begin to degrade. A pineapple on a shelf in the market is as ripe as it’s going to be.
In terms of sweetness, color is not an indication. Oftentimes, depending upon the weather, green fruit will be sweeter than yellow fruit.
The only true indication is the size and flatness of the ‘eyes’ of the fruit. Typically, the bigger the eyes and the flatter the eyes, the sweeter the pineapple will be.
The color of the outer shell of the pineapple is not necessarily a sign of maturity or ripeness: a pineapple’s flesh can be ripe, sweet and ready to eat when the shell is still quite green. A University of Florida publication states, “For optimum fruit sweetness, pineapple fruit should be harvested when 1/3 to 2/3 or more of the peel color has turned from green to yellow.”
Other indicators are as follows:
• A good, ripe fruit has a dull, solid sound; immaturity and poor quality are indicated by a hollow thud.
• If the pineapple is at its peak freshness, it will have a sweet and fragrant odor. If the odor coming from the pineapple smells too sweet and almost alcoholic, it is past its peak. If you don’t plan to use your fresh pineapple right away, store it in the refrigerator, where it will keep longer. Generally, once it is ripe, fruit can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.
• In addition, the ease of pulling leaves from the crown is not a sign of ripeness.
Many years ago, scientists classified fruits into two categories: climacteric and non-climacteric.
Climacteric fruit usually undergo dramatic changes during ripening. These changes often have been associated with a surge in respiration and ethylene, a natural plant hormone, production.
The avocado and banana are classified as climacteric fruits, whereas the pineapple is classified as a non-climacteric fruit.
Non-climacteric fruit do not exhibit the increase in respiration or the rise in ethylene production. In addition, they normally do not undergo dramatic changes such as softening after harvest.
A few words about organic matter (OM)
OM is often divided into two categories, active and stabilized. Active OM is made of fresh and partially decomposing organic material and living organisms. Nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur are held in this active OM until soil organisms release them for plant use.
A soil with 3 percent OM contains about 3,000 pounds per acre of nitrogen. Only a small part, however, 30-100 pounds, can become available to plants in any one year.
Stabilized OM, also known as humus, is the end product and a reservoir for nutrient storage.
Mark your calendar for 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11. I will be teaching a gardening class at the University of Hawaii at Hilo campus titled “General Care of Backyard Citrus and Avocado.”
Call the College of Continuing Education and Community Service at 974-7664 to reserve a seat.
Hilo resident Nick Sakovich is a professor emeritus of the University of California. He has worked in the field of agriculture for 30 years. Email your questions to Sakovich at askthegarden firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can visit his website at www.gardenguyhawaii.com.