HOW TO: Cut a Pineapple
Pineapples are great any time of the year. You can throw them on the grill and let the heat caramelize the sugars a little bit...use them to flavor fish...dehydrate them for an on-the-go snack...even squeeze the juice to use as a tenderizer on red meat.
Picking out ripe pineapples isn't hard. Usually you can sniff the bottom (where gravity has pulled most of the sugar) in search of sweetness. You can also grasp the side of the fruit firmly and tug at one of the leaves in the crown. If it pulls out easily, the pineapple is ripe.
The problem is, how best to cut through all that clever armor plating Mother Nature created – and avoid the core?
You can certainly buy one of those pineapple coring devices, but if you are old school or just stubborn, the experts seem to agree that there are two good ways to cut a pineapple.
1. The Bent Knife Technique
Starting with a firm sharp knife, cut off the crown, then cut off a fairly narrow slice on each end, and cut the pineapple in half and in half again, lengthwise. Now switch over to a long but more flexible knife. Slice off the top half-inch along the entire length (this is in essence one-quarter of the core). Then insert the knife just above the rind, bend the blade slightly so that it mimics the curve of the pineapple, and slice off the entire yellow flesh.
The problem with this technique is that it often leaves little bits of rind "eye" on the pineapple, and, if you haven't bent the blade enough, it may leave some of the sweetest flesh still attached to the rind. (Don't do what most people do at that point – slice off little pieces and eat them right from the knife. It is tempting but may leave you speaking with forked tongue.)
2. The Shaving Technique
Cut off the crown, but instead of laying the pineapple down and cutting it lengthwise, this time you are going to stand it up and "shave" each edge of the rind off with a good sharp knife. Once you are left with only the yellow flesh, you can either use one of those pineapple corers to remove a "cylinder" from the center, OR turn it lengthwise, cut it into inch-thick slices, and then remove the core circle from each piece with a paring knife. There's a pretty good quality YouTube video demonstrating this technique.
If you are entertaining, you may want to try an alternate technique, which is to carve a pineapple boat. Here, you leave the crown on, remove an inch or so of one side wall of the pineapple, and then simply carve out most of the flesh – leaving a "boat" into which you can place strawberries and kiwis and other colorful items.