There are pineapples growing in my garden. As a Canadian who was always struggling to get even tomatoes and peppers to grow in my short summer season, this is the height of tropical decadence. As a nutrition fiend and herbalist, there are some major health benefits to growing this fruit and I thought I would share a couple of them here.
Pineapple has gained respect in the past couple decades or so in the health field because of the enzyme bromelain. Bromelain helps with the digestion of proteins, so it is sometimes found in digestive system supplements or weight loss products, but it also works to break down dead protein such as fibrin, meaning that it can be useful for stiffness, reduced mobility, arthritis, etc. and as an anti-inflammatory agent that can reduce swelling.
Plus it tastes good.
Most of the bromelain supplements that are available commercially are extracting the enzyme from the stem, but it is also available throughout the fruit, so just eating it on a regular basis will provide some. Here in Costa Rica, pineapple is one of the staples of life, and I can tell you that a perfectly ripe, freshly picked pineapple is like nothing you’ve ever tasted before if you’ve only ever experienced them as purchased from North American grocery stores. The smell is heavenly and you can eat a ton of it without ever having that weird acidic-burning feeling in your mouth like you get from an unripe one.
According to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, one cup of fresh pineapple contains 105% of your DRI of vitamin C and 77% of your DRI for manganese as well as a good hit of copper and B-vitamins. This means all kinds of goodness for your immune system and for management of free radical damage.
So here’s how to plant one. I know the picture looks like there are worms growing in your fruit, but those are actually roots. Pineapple plants will grow from the stem of the delicious fruit you have just enjoyed – all you have to do is cut the stem high where there is no remaining fruit, then peel off the first four or five layers of leaves. Each layer will reveal some of these tiny brown roots. Then you put the stem into the garden, water it well until it becomes established, and wait. As always, the waiting is the hardest part as it takes about two years for the stem to grow into a new ripe pineapple.
You can try this at home if you have a sunny location and a pot that you can bring indoors over the winter. Or you can come visit in two years when mine are ready.