How to Know When a Pineapple Is Ripe & Ready to Be Picked
Pineapples (Ananas comosus) are a very popular tropical fruit that is native to South America and winter hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 11 and 12.
Rich in vitamin C, manganese and potassium, this fruit is often eaten fresh as cut pineapple. It is also used in beverages, such as in smoothies, or as an ingredient in classic pineapple recipes, such as pineapple upside-down cake.
Pineapples can be picked at maximum ripeness, or they can be harvested earlier and allowed to continue ripening off the plant.
Growing Pineapple Plants
Native to tropical regions, pineapple plants cannot tolerate frost and need temperatures between 65 and 95°F in order to grow. That means that the popular pineapple cannot be grown outdoors in most climates in the U.S.
Outside of the optimal pineapple growing zone, pineapples are sometimes grown indoors in large containers. The fruit of indoor pineapple plants tends to be small and not very tasty, however. Instead, indoor pineapple plants are grown primarily as ornamentals.
Pineapples are usually propagated by planting a crown, which is the leafy top of the pineapple, or from shoots known as suckers that extend from the main stem. They can also be grown from the slips that grow on the bottom of the fruit. You can simply remove and replant the crowns, suckers or slips from a whole pineapple that you purchased at the grocery store.
Pineapple Harvest Time
Growing pineapples for fruit requires plenty of commitment and patience. That's because it can take one to two years for a full-grown pineapple plant to flower and another five to seven months after flowering before it produces ripe pineapples that are ready to be harvested. In total, it can take anywhere from 18 to 32 months for a pineapple plant to produce fruit.
A pineapple plant produces a single fruit. In some cases, you can harvest a second fruit known as a ratoon crop after the first crop has been harvested.
When to Pick a Pineapple
Immature pineapples are green in color. As the fruit matures, it starts to turn a brownish-yellow color starting at the bottom of the fruit.
You can tell that it is time to harvest pineapples when 1/3 to 2/3 of the peel has turned from green to a yellow color. This is when the fruit is at peak sweetness.
It is time to harvest pineapples when 1/3 to 2/3 of the peel has turned from green to a yellow color.
If you are not planning to consume the fruit right away, however, you can pick an unripe pineapple when it has reached its full size but is still entirely green. Keep the fruit at room temperature to let the pineapple ripen.
Regardless of when you pick the pineapple, it should be completely ripe before you place it in the refrigerator. If you place a green pineapple in the refrigerator, it will not ripen properly due to injury caused by the low temperatures inside the appliance. When the fruit is ripe, you can store pineapples in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- As the outer pineapple turns from green to yellow, the inner pineapple also turns yellow (from a previous white color). The more yellow a pineapple, the sweeter it will taste.
Since beginning her career as a professional journalist in 2007, Nathalie Alonso has covered a myriad of topics, including arts, culture and travel, for newspapers and magazines in New York City. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and lives in Queens with her two cats.