Pineapple celebrates century-plus in Hawaii

If the first pineapples were planted in Hawaii on Jan. 11, 1813, this week marks 105 years of enjoying its tangy, sweet-tart flavors in local recipes.

Although native to Central and South America, pineapple’s use in some classic recipes (like pizza) is often labeled “Hawaiian.” Hawaii ranks as one of the top pineapple producers in the world, and our island crop is used in much more creative recipes today than ever before. Since pineapple offers a good helping of vitamins C and A, along with potassium and manganese, their popularity should continue for many years to come.

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Poached Pineapple

This easy side dish can accompany grilled vegetables, roast pork, or even breakfast breads and eggs. Recipe from “Cooking Light” magazine; makes 4 servings.

1 medium fresh Hawaiian pineapple, peeled and cored

1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon whole cloves

3-inch stick cinnamon

Cut pineapple lengthwise into 12 spears; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine remaining ingredients; bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Add pineapple spears; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 8 minutes. Remove from heat, discard cloves and cinnamon stick. Serve warm or chilled.

Pineapple-Ginger Relish

“Big Flavors of the Hot Sun” authors Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby suggest serving this easy relish with grilled fish. No cooking required; makes about 1 1/2 cups, good for 4 to 6 servings.

1 cup diced fresh Hawaiian pineapple

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions

1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)

1 teaspoon minced fresh red or green chili pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Spicy Pineapple Chutney

Try this with chicken, pork or salmon and get ready for the afterburn. Recipe from “Chutneys &Relishes” by Lorraine Bodger; makes about 21/2 cups.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 large ripe pineapple

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/3 cup dark raisins

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté onion over medium-low heat until well browned. Using a sharp, straight-bladed or serrated knife, cut off the leaf crown, skin and eyes of the pineapple. Quarter it lengthwise, then slice out the core. Cut pineapple flesh into half-inch chunks. When onion is browned, turn off heat. Add vinegar, honey, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir well; simmer over low heat for a minute or two. Add pineapple chunks and raisins, stir well and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring often. Pineapple will turn a gorgeous reddish brown, liquid will evaporate, and mixture will thicken. Turn off heat; let chutney cool in skillet. Transfer to a bowl, making sure to get all the browned bits off the skillet. If made ahead, store in refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.

Baked Pineapple Pudding

Try this with ham instead of the old-style pineapple rounds. It’s also great with chicken or fish. Recipe from “Kona On My Plate” cookbook from Kona Outdoor Circle; makes 6 servings.

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup water

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups fresh pineapple, minced, with juice

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon butter

Ground cinnamon

In a medium bowl, stir together cornstarch and water until smooth. Add beaten eggs; blend well. Stir in pineapple, juice, sugar, vanilla and salt. Pour into a lightly greased 1 1/2-quart ovenproof casserole dish. Dot with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Serve warm.

Pineapple Crush Ice Cream

How easy can you get? Choose an “extra sweet” pineapple to make this dessert from “The Three Ingredient Cookbook” by Jenny White; makes 4 to 6 servings.

2 extra-sweet pineapples

1/4 cup superfine sugar

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1 1/4 cups whipping cream

Slice one pineapple in half through the leafy top, scoop out flesh from both halves, and keep the shells intact. Stand upside down to drain, wrap in plastic wrap and chill until needed. Trim top off remaining pineapple; cut flesh into slices, then cut away the skin and eyes. Remove core from each slice, then finely chop flesh from both pineapples. Puree 11 oz. of pineapple in a food processor or blender, reserving the remainder. Using an ice cream maker, churn the puree with sugar for 15 to 20 minutes. Mix in the cream; churn until thick but too soft to scoop. Add 1 1/2 cups of the remaining pineapple; continue to churn ice cream until stiff enough to serve in scoops.