Originally found in Paraguay and southern Brazil, pineapples are cultivated today in all tropical regions, and primarily in East Asia. Thailand and the Philippines account for roughly one-third of global production and are a popular main ingredient in fruit beverages.
The pineapple plant consists of a large rosette of leaves measuring up to 90 centimetres in length with sharp tips and thorny edges. A long stem bearing 100 to 200 white-and-pink blossoms arranged in the shape of a cone grows from the centre of the rosette. The blossoms ripen into berries, which then join together to form a fruit weighing between one and four kilograms. About 100 varieties of pineapple have been identified.
Pineapples are rich in essential minerals, such as iron and calcium, as well as provitamin A and B vitamins. They also contain bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme that is known for its digestion-enhancing effects. Its presence is also the reason why the flesh and juice of fresh pineapples are recommended for people with low levels of gastric acid.
Pineapples are classified as pseudo- or aggregate fruits. A particularly remarkable feature the pineapple is its scaly skin. The flesh of the perfectly ripe fruit is firm, yet juicy, and has a light- to golden-yellow colour.
Pineapples have a distinctive sweet, aromatic flavour. The woody centre is ordinarily inedible. According to one rule of thumb, the more prominent the scales on the skin, the more aromatic the taste of the pineapple.