Brought to you by Pure Gold Pineapples
Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been a lover of pineapple, in every form. Such delicious sweetness, a hint of tang and the perfect ingredient to summer fruit salads, BBQs and of course the ham & pineapple pizza (right!)?
But what about eating Pineapple in winter? Pineapple’s only a summer fruit right? WRONG!
We were approached by the good folk at Pure Gold Pineapples to bust some of the biggest myths about one of Australia’s (and my) most popular fruit. There are so many health benefits of eating pineapple and with them being great eating all year round, what better way to get up close and personal, than to hit the farm and learn from the farmers themselves! So I packed my bags, said goodbye to the kids and headed to Queensland’s Glasshouse Mountains!
First of all I have to admit I had NO idea how pineapples were grown. Do you? I posted this post up on our Mum’s Pantry Facebook page and judging by the response, most of us had little idea just how pineapples are grown!
Meet Joe Craggs, my guide for the trip and the marketing force behind Pure Gold Pineapples. He’s 100% passionate about working with the farmers to deliver quality fruit to your tables 12 months of the year and really wants to ensure we learn everything we need to bust the common myths about pineapples and get you eating pineapples all year round!
So before we start, here’s a few things you should know about the sweet fruit:
FACT 1: Pineapples are NOT only a summer fruit! Pineapples sold without a crown are NOT second quality, they are the PURE GOLD variety which are the PERFECT WINTER FRUIT! Those with the crown (the smooth variety) can lose their sweetness through the winter period and if you’re in the habit of grabbing only pineapples with the crown on, then it’s time to reach for the PURE GOLD pineapple without the crown. Beautiful and sweet ALL YEAR ROUND!
FACT 2: It takes two years to grow a pineapple. YEP! From planting to harvest, you can expect to wait around 24 months for these babies to be big enough and ripe enough to eat! Considering it’s taken her 2 full years to be at her prime, does that make you appreciate their value for money now?
FACT 3: Pineapples are ripest on the day they are picked. The farmer picks it at it’s prime so from then on the pine is only going to deteriorate. Don’t let it sit in your fruit bowl waiting for the colour to change – EAT IT NOW!
FACT 4: Once cut, pineapples will last for two weeks in an air-tight container in the fridge! That is, if they last that long! So cut them up, pop them in the fridge and dish them up to the kids next time they’re looking for something sweet to eat! Beats sugary treats hands down!
Pineapples are ripe and ready to eat on the day they’re picked by the farmers so don’t delay in cutting them open to enjoy their sweet goodness!
This stunning shot captures the pineapple at about 18 months of age, just after it’s flowered! Truly stunning (and you can imagine how amazing a whole crop looks!) From here they’ve got about 4 months left to be truly ready for harvest.
Meet Chris Fullerton, his family have been farming pineapples for over 100 years! He took us for a run across his farm and opened my eyes to the complexity, process and just what goes into growing a crop of these sweet fruit!
These guys really are the specialists! With over a hundred years of pineapple farming behind them, we’re in great hands and you just can’t beat passion! Here they are standing alongside one of the original pineapple harvesters. A far cry from what they use today … got to love a little nostalgia! 😉
We just need to get the message out that the Pure Gold Pineapples (the ones without their crowns) are best eating ALL YEAR ROUND! Avoid reaching for the Smooth variety (those with their crowns on) during the cooler weather as they can be a little less ‘sweet and delicious’ and you’re missing out on the golden sweetness of the Pure Gold babies!
Next we visited Ian Fullerton on his farm “Bonny Rig”. He took up the challenge of pineapple farming in 1972 and as the second generation, he didn’t want to see the farm leave the family. It was perfect timing as he was right in the middle of harvesting the very famous (and delicious) Pure Gold pineapples (they’re the ones without the head and sweet and delicious all year round!)! Now this has to be seen to be believed! What an operation!!
Firstly, the team walk behind the long conveyor belt which is towed by a tractor that slowly runs along each of the pineapple crops. The pines are picked off the bushes by hand, their crowns guillotined off and the pineapple is sent along the conveyor. The head is sent along a separate conveyor ready for collection to replant.
The Pure Gold pineapples are by far the most versatile pineapples for year-round eating so don’t let the ‘crown less’ appearance make you think otherwise! They’ve just gone back into the land to grow the next crop!
Next stop was Murray and Sam Pike’s property where they grow a whopping 900,000 plants! He was such a great character and really passionate about farming top quality pineapples to land on your plate all year round!
I am a big fan of symmetry so you can appreciate I found the long, straight rows of plants to be a feast for the eyes!
The crowns are collected and stored for a few weeks in the sun to dry out before planting again. These are then tipped into the top of the planting machine below and one by one are replanted by hand back into the soil.
The Pikes have engineered their own self-propelled planting machine which has seats for 4 staff to sit and methodically replant the pineapple crowns back into the earth to grow new bushes. It’s actually quite mesmerising to watch!
The actual preparation and planting process is a mighty production line! First they need to plough the soil, prepare it, create the mounds and finally the planting occurs. Watching these guys at work was pretty impressive, they were a well oiled machine! They planted 30,000 plants in the one day I was there!
Next stop is the packing centre where all the pineapples are taken on the day they’re picked! They’re put through a pretty rigorous grading process so that only the best pines make it into boxes ready to hit the shelves at your local retailer. Those that aren’t top quality are sent on for juicing.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the Pure Gold Pineapple (with her crown off) as they’re best eaten all year round and you know they’re better for the farmer, better for your tastebuds and we’re supporting the future generations of pineapple farmers here in Australia.
So there you go. I had an absolute blast! As I said before I’m an avid lover of pineapple and just had so much more of an appreciation for this golden fruit! I tried so many different types of pineapple throughout the few days I was there and have to say, I love it now more than ever!
SO REMEMBERING THAT:
1) Pure Gold Pineapples (the ones with their crowns OFF) provide great eating right through the year
2) They’re at their ripest the day the farmer picks them so colouring is only aesthetic and nothing to do with flavour
WHICH PINEAPPLE WOULD YOU BUY?