Pineapple



Ananas comosus is a fruit whose common name, pineapple, is derived from the Spanish word piña, which means “pine cone”.1 The pineapple’s scaly exterior was said to bear a vague resemblance to pine cones by early travellers.2 Its scientific name came from the Gaurani-Tupi Indians who called it nana.3

Origins and distribution
The pineapple is a tropical crop that originated from South America.4 It was first introduced into Europe by the Spaniards and Portuguese in the 17th century.5 There, it gained the status of a luxury, premium dessert fruit, and was seen as a symbol of cordiality in European high society.6 The major producers of the fruit in Southeast Asia are Malaysia and the Philippines.7


Description
The pineapple is a low, terrestrial bush which grows to about 1 m in height. It is a member of the Bromeliaceae family and has a stout, thick stem from which a crown of strap-like leaves are produced.8 The rosette-like leaves are usually dark green, with pale, silvery undersides. They have serrated edges and may bear sharp spines. Each pineapple produces a large flower-head consisting of 100 to 200 florets.9 After fertilisation, the florets form individual fruits and begin to swell. As they are so densely packed, the fruits fuse and eventually form a collective fruit when ripe.10 A ripe pineapple weighs about 2 kg on average, depending on the species.11

The numerous pineapple varieties are classified into four main export varieties: Smooth Cayenne, Red Spanish, Abacaxi and Queen. When peeled, the colour of a ripe pineapple ranges from almost white to a yellow.12 The flesh is slightly fibrous and very juicy because of its high water content.13 The flavour is light, sweet and mildly acidic, making it deliciously refreshing.14 Cultivated pineapple fruits do not bear seeds, but in the wild they may be pollinated by bats, insects or humming birds, resulting in immense seed production. While the seeds may have practical benefit for selective breeding, this is an undesirable trait in dessert fruit. Therefore, the inflorescence of cultivated pineapples must be kept covered to prevent pollination.15

Usage and potential
Food
Although it is usually served freshly sliced, there are many other ways of eating pineapple. A popular Asian delicacy (often attributed as a Thai dish but believed to have originated in Singapore) is pineapple rice, which is traditionally served in a hollowed-out pineapple shell. The pineapple is also widely used to flavour “sweet and sour” dishes and fruit salads.16

Nanas goreng is a tasty Indonesian dessert made of pineapple slices that have been fried in batter and are served with a generous helping of cinnamon sugar.17 The Malays make a pleasant appetiser called pacheri with pineapple, chillies, ghee and sugar, while manisan is pineapple served with only sugar.18

Apart from being canned, dried in cubes or made into fruit juice, the pineapple is also processed to produce alcohol, pineapple vinegar and citric acid.19 Other pineapple foods include chutneys, pickles and jams.20

Medicine
Bromelin, an enzyme present in ripe pineapples, aids in digestion and acid dyspepsia.21 Partially developed pineapple fruits are believed to be poisonous and act as a purgative so violent that it can terminate pregnancy.22 They are hence generally considered unsafe for consumption.23 Unripe fruit were previously used as a vermifuge, diuretic and treatment for venereal diseases.24

Others
Pineapple leaf fibres are used in the textile and rope-making industry. The fibres are also used to weave the exquisitely intricate fabric of the Barong, the national dress of Filipino men. Pineapples contain a protease papain, which is used as a meat tenderiser. Pineapple juice was also used by the Malays as a cleaning agent when engraving the blade of the kris.25

Pineapple canning industry
Pineapple canning was an important industry in Malaya and Singapore from the late 1880s to the post-war period. The pineapple canning industry was started in Singapore around the 1880s by the Europeans. They subsequently transferred their pineapple canning factories to the Chinese, who then dominated the industry.26 The industry witnessed a growth, followed by a complete hiatus during World War II and then a decline in the post-war years.27 Two notable pineapple kings were Lim Nee Soon and Lee Kong Chian. Lim cultivated pineapple plants between rows of rubber trees in his plantations and also established a pineapple canning factory. Lee’s businesses ranged from rubber processing to pineapple canning. He set up Lee Pineapple in 1931.28

Variant names
Common name: Pineapple.
Scientific name: (Ananas comosus).
Malay name: Nanas.29
Other names: Ananas, piña.



Author

Annalisa Dass



References
1. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 10. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP); Hutton, W. (1996). Tropical fruits of Malaysia & Singapore. Hong Kong: Eric M. Oey, p. 41. (Call no.: YRSING 634.6 HUT) 
2. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 10. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP); Hutton, W. (1996). Tropical fruits of Malaysia & Singapore. Hong Kong: Eric M. Oey, p. 41. (Call no.: YRSING 634.6 HUT) 
3. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 10. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP)
4. Hutton, W. (1996). Tropical fruits of Malaysia & Singapore. Hong Kong: Eric M. Oey, p. 41. (Call no.: YRSING 634.6 HUT) 
5. Burkill, I. H. (1966). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Malaysia: Ministry of Agriculture and Co-Operatives, p. 149. (Call no.: RSING 634.909595 BUR)
6. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 10. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP)
7. Morton, J. (1987). Pineapple. In J. F. Morton, Fruits of warm climates. Retrieved 2016, December 29 from Purdue University website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/pineapple.html 
8. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 10. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP); Hutton, W. (1996). Tropical fruits of Malaysia & Singapore. Hong Kong: Eric M. Oey, p. 41. (Call no.: YRSING 634.6 HUT) 
9. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 10. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP)
10. Allen, B. M. (1967). Malayan fruits. Singapore: Donald Moore Press, p. 208. (Call no.: RCLOS 634.09595 ALL) 
11. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP); Morton, J. (1987). Pineapple. In J. F. Morton, Fruits of warm climates. Retrieved 2016, December 29 from Purdue University website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/pineapple.html
12. Morton, J. (1987). Pineapple. In J. F. Morton, Fruits of warm climates. Retrieved 2016, December 29 from Purdue University website: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/pineapple.html
13. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP)
14. Hutton, W. (1996). Tropical fruits of Malaysia & Singapore. Hong Kong: Eric M. Oey, p. 41. (Call no.: YRSING 634.6 HUT) 
15. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP)
16. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 11–12. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP); Hutton, W. (1996). Tropical fruits of Malaysia & Singapore. Hong Kong: Eric M. Oey, p. 41. (Call no.: YRSING 634.6 HUT) 
17. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP)
18. Burkill, I. H. (1966). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Malaysia: Ministry of Agriculture and Co-Operatives, p. 151. (Call no.: RSING 634.909595 BUR)
19. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP)
20. Hutton, W. (1996). Tropical fruits of Malaysia & Singapore. Hong Kong: Eric M. Oey, p. 41. (Call no.: YRSING 634.6 HUT) 
21. Burkill, I. H. (1966). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Malaysia: Ministry of Agriculture and Co-Operatives, p. 152. (Call no.: RSING 634.909595 BUR)
22. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP)
23. Burkill, I. H. (1966). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Malaysia: Ministry of Agriculture and Co-Operatives, p. 152. (Call no.: RSING 634.909595 BUR)
24. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP)
25. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 12–13. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP)
26. Burkill, I. H. (1966). A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Malaysia: Ministry of Agriculture and Co-Operatives, pp. 151–152. (Call no.: RSING 634.909595 BUR); Allen, B. M. (1967). Malayan fruits. Singapore: Donald Moore Press, p. 210. (Call no.: RCLOS 634.09595 ALL) 
27. Allen, B. M. (1967). Malayan fruits. Singapore: Donald Moore Press, p. 210. (Call no.: RCLOS 634.09595 ALL)  
28. Tan, B. H. (1987, November 24). Man behind old Nee Soon village. The Straits Times, p. 6; Pioneers of Singapore. (1986, April 20). The Straits Times, p. 8; From rags to ‘rubber king’. (1967, June 3). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Piper, J. M. (1989). Fruits of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 10. (Call no.: RSING 634.60959 PIP)



The information in this article is valid as at 1999 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history on the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Pineapple--Singapore
Fruits--Singapore
Science and technology>>Agriculture>>Fruit crops
Plants
Cookery>>Types of meals>>Desserts
Nature>>Plants