Pineapple

 

This handsome fruit can be prepared in many ways: the whole fruit can be hollowed to make a shell, or the flesh removed, cored and cut into wedges, rings or chunks. It can be served as it is, or cooked - as a dessert or fragrant accompaniment to meat, especially pork and duck.

MAKING A SHELL CONTAINER

The shell of a pineapple makes an impressive natural serving bowl that can be filled with diced pineapple flesh mixed with other fruits or ice cream. Removing the flesh in one piece following the technique shown here also allows you to cut perfect rings. To remove cores from slices.

1. Lay the pineapple flat on a cutting board. Slice off the plume with a chef's knife and reserve it for serving.

2. Cut down between the skin and flesh, releasing the flesh all round while leaving a firm wall of skin.

3. Turn pineapple over; cut off the bottom to level it and help release the flesh.

4. Cup the pineapple with one hand. Push a fork firmly into the centre of the flesh and pull it out in one piece. To serve the pineapple flesh back in its shell, slice it crosswise, remove the cores and dice the flesh.

Miniature pineapples make attractive containers for individual servings of fruit salad and ice cream, as shown below.

To serve whole baby pineapples topped with their plumes, simply follow steps 1-4, right. Fill with diced pineapple flesh mixed with summer berries and slices of apple and orange. The fruit can be macerated in kirsch or white rum and sugar syrup.

To serve baby pineapple halves, cut the fruit lengthwise in half, scoop out the woody central core and top with a scoop of ice cream. Serve at once.

REMOVING PINEAPPLE SKIN

When neither a serving shell nor perfect rings are required, the quickest way to get at the flesh is to strip the skin off the whole fruit. After slicing and coring the fruit, the flesh can then be cut into chunks or dice.

1. Cut off the plume and the bottom of the pineapple. Stand the fruit upright and slice off the skin from top to bottom using a chef's knife.

2. Dig out any spikes or eyes left in the flesh with the point of a small knife. Slice the fruit crosswise using a chef's knife.

CORING

Lay each pineapple slice flat and then stamp out the core with a small cutter.

MAKING WEDGES

An attractive way to serve a wedge of fresh pineapple is to display the cut fruit in a zigzag pattern, as shown here. Another way, used in classic French cuisine, is to loosen the flesh from the wedge while keeping the core intact - this will help keep it neatly together for serving.

1. Quarter the fruit lengthwise, including the plume. Cut away the core from the centre of each piece.

2. Beginning at the plume end of each quarter, cut between the flesh and the skin using a sawing motion.

3. Cut the flesh crosswise into even slices. Push the slices out from the shell, changing direction each time.

Slices or rings of pineapple can be grilled or sautéed with flavourings of your choice.

For a Caribbean flavour, use toasted shredded coconut, rum, fresh orange juice, cinnamon or cloves. For an Asian taste, use star anise or grated lime zest.