When I was little, one of our favorite treats was fresh pineapple. We kids would gather around the table with wide-eyed fascination as our father would carefully prep the pineapple. First he would cut off the green spiky top. Then he would carefully cut the skin off the sides, as close to the edge of the pineapple skin as he could, knowing that the sweetest and juiciest parts of the pineapple were usually right at the very edge. This of course would leave exposed a bunch of brown, scraggly dots, called eyes, that needed to be removed. You couldn’t eat them, they were too prickly. Fortunately if you looked carefully you could tell that the eyes lined up in a spiral. So dad would carefully cut away at them, forming V-shaped trenches as he moved around the pineapple to remove them. When the pineapple was all ready to go, he would slice it rounds, and give us each forks to spear our own round in the tough center. Then we would run outside, holding the pineapple round on our fork, and eat that pineapple ring all around the sweet juicy edges (taking our drippy mess outside). If all the rounds were accounted for (there were six of us kids), and we were still desperate for more pineapple, we would nibble on the tough core until everything was eaten.
My father with a pineapple that is still a little too green for his taste, a sweeter one would be more golden.
These days most people (sometimes me included) don’t bother with the spiral cuts, they just make deeper cuts initially to cut off the pineapple skin and the eyes together. If you are rushed for time you can easily do that. But the far edges are the best part, especially if the pineapple is still a little green. So here’s my dad’s way of cutting a pineapple, if you want to take a couple extra minutes to extract more of the juicy bits.
How to Cut a Pineapple
First make sure your pineapple is ripe. The best way to tell is to smell the bottom of it. If it smells of pineapple, it's ripe. If it smells fermented, it's overripe. It should still be rather firm, with just a little give. If it is soft at all, it is too ripe. The pineapple may have some green on the sides, but shouldn't be completely green. At a minimum it should be turning golden at the bottom and around the eyes on the sides. Where it is golden it is sweetest and most ripe.
- One ripe pineapple
1 Place the pineapple on its side on a cutting board. With a sharp chef's knife, slice off the top green crown and about a half inch of the top of the pineapple. Stand the pineapple upright on the cutting board.
2 Use a sharp knife to carefully cut away the the skin, from top to bottom, following the contours of the pineapple. Do not cut so deep as to cut away the eyes. The outer edge of the pineapple has the sweetest flesh, so you want to retain that if you can. Cut off the bottom half inch or so of the pineapple.
3 Now you have a pineapple dotted with eyes which must be removed. You can use a small paring knife to carefully carve out each one, but there is an easier way. Notice that the eyes all line up on a diagonal. You can make a diagonal cut across the side of the pineapple, like a V-shaped trench, and more easily cut out all of the eyes that are on that diagonal. Just continue to work your way around the pineapple. You do waste a little bit of good pineapple this way, but not much, and it is a lot faster than trying to carefully cut out each eye.
4 Now the pineapple is ready to cut further. There are several ways to make the final cuts of the pineapple, depending how you are serving it. If you want rounds, just lay the pineapple on its side and cut it into 3/4 inch rounds. For rings, cut out the tough core. When we were kids we preferred to keep the core in. We liked to spear the core in a solid pineapple round with our fork, and then hold up the pineapple round to eat the ripe edges.
If you just want chunks, cut the pineapple lengthwise into quarters. Cut out the tough core, then cut each quarter lengthwise again. Then cut crosswise into chunks.
Yield: One pineapple yields about 4 cups of cut pineapple chunks.