Pineapples (Ananas comosus) are indigenous to southern Brazil and Paraguay but also prosper in the warm Mediterranean areas of the southern and coastal United States. Pineapple plants are herbaceous perennials that grow to between 2 1/2 and 5 feet tall. While growing pineapples is not so difficult, harvesting the fruit can be tricky. Determining when a pineapple fruit is ripe enough to harvest is dependent mainly on the color and size of the fruit.
Regarding Pineapple Fruit
Pineapple fruit is a seedless fruit called a syncarp, meaning it is generated in the fusion of several small flowers into a single, large fruit. When pineapple fruits are mature, the individual fruitlets on the peel or skin flatten, and the peel begins to change color from green to yellow, starting at the base of this fruit and moving into the top. Mature pineapples can be hefty, weighing as much as 5 to 10 pounds.
When to Harvest
For optimum sweetness and quality, pineapple fruit should not be picked until one-third or more of the peel or shell has turned from green to yellow. Ideally, you should select the fruit through the late mature green stage, when the fruit has reached full size and adulthood but hasn’t turned yellow, then allow the harvested fruit to ripen off the plant at room temperature. Do not refrigerate your pineapple fruit until it’s ripened. If pineapple is refrigerated at the immature green stage, it can result in chilling injury and improper ripening. Ripeness can likewise be determined by massaging your finger against the side of the fruit. Ripened pineapples produce a dull, solid sound if you do this, but immature fruit produce a hollow thud.
The time that it takes a particular plant to produce ripe fruit that is ready for harvest is based upon the amount, the developing climate, care and the technique of propagation. For example, propagation by cutting can take up to 24 weeks to produce ripe fruit, while suckers and slips take require less time. Generally, the initial harvest of pineapple fruit from your plant will require 18 to 20 weeks of development before it’s ready to harvest. The second crop typically requires slightly less time.
Greatest Time to Eat
Because pineapples are prepared to harvest slightly before they are ready to eat, then it can be difficult to determine if it has ripened into the stage that provides the very best quality and flavor. The physical appearance of the fruit frequently provides several key clues to its readiness for eating. When your pineapple fruit turns almost entirely yellow and gives off a sweet scent, it’s typically prepared to eat. The pulp of a ripe pineapple is yellow to golden yellow, juicy and has a flavor that is sweet.