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Exploring Pineapple: Origins, History and 8 Tasty Recipes

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

The pineapple has a long history and can be used in so many recipes.

The pineapple has a long history and can be used in so many recipes.

A Short Lesson on Pineapples

Pineapple—let’s get down to basics:

  • It's not related to the coniferous Christmas tree.
  • It’s not related to the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
  • It’s not from Hawaii.

OK, so now that we have hit the Ctrl-Alt-Delete on this fruit (a re-start for those of you who are not computer-savvy), how do we begin again?

The botanical name for pineapple is Ananas comosus, and it began its humble life in South America.

It's said in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

And then in 1493, he visited Guadelupe.

... and he discovered pineapples.

— Author

(Yes, I know that it doesn't exactly rhyme, but close enough.)

Columbus gave this new-found fruit the name "pina de Indes" (pine of the Indians). The people of Guadelupe called it ananã, which means "excellent fruit." And excellent it is!


Timeline of the Spread of Pineapple to Europe and Hawaii

  • 1493: Columbus discovers pineapple on the island of Guadelupe and takes some home on his return trip to Europe.
  • 1519: Magellan discovers pineapple plants in his exploration of Brazil.
  • 1555: Pineapples are being exported to Europe.
  • 1751: George Washington tasted pineapple in Barbados and declared it his favorite tropical fruit.
  • 1770: Captain James Cook introduced the pineapple to Hawaii.
  • 1880: Steamships made transporting the perishable fruit a viable industry.
  • 1903: James Drummond Dole began canning pineapple.
  • 1921: The Dole Hawaiian Pineapple Company was a thriving business, making pineapple Hawaii's largest crop and industry.

Food of the Elite

Columbus returned to Europe with pineapples, but not everyone enjoyed the fruits of his voyage. Pineapple was and is delicate and perishable and, in the rule of supply and demand, it became a luxury of kings rather than a food for the common man. European gardeners struggled to propagate the pineapple, but it was at least two centuries before a hothouse method for growing in Europe was successful.

The pineapple became the exotic fruit of the rich, or quasi-rich. Believe it or not, pineapples were “rented” for display on banquet tables, not for consumption, but merely as a symbol of the wealth of the host.

United States and World Production Today

Recent statistics state that about 15,300,000 metric tons (or 34 billion pounds) of pineapples are harvested each year. Worldwide 82 countries produce pineapple on about 2.1 million acres. The average yield is 17,000 pounds per acre.

Hawaii is the only U.S. producer of pineapple, producing about 430 million pounds per year. Pineapples which are to be eaten fresh are harvested by hand; those designated for canning are harvested mechanically.

Top 10 Pineapple Producing CountriesPercentage of World Production













Costa Rica








8 Delicious Pineapple Recipes

  1. Lavender-pineapple lemonade (V)
  2. Disney pineapple Dole Whip (V)
  3. Pineapple crisp (V)
  4. Pineapple-cucumber-mint popsicles (V)
  5. Grilled pineapple salsa (V)
  6. BBQ chicken bacon pineapple kebobs
  7. Hawaiian chickpea veggie burgers (V)
  8. Sweet and sour crockpot chicken

(V) = Vegetarian

Lavender pineapple lemonade

Lavender pineapple lemonade

1. Lavender Pineapple Lemonade

I am blessed to have several large lavender plants in my garden. They are one of the few things that shunned by the local deer and rabbits.


  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers (see note below)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 6 large lemons)
  • 2 cups pineapple juice


  1. Bring 2 cups of the water and the sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat; add lavender. Cover and let stand for 2-4 hours.
  2. Strain, discarding lavender. Stir in lemon juice, pineapple juice, and remaining 2 cups water.
  3. Chill; serve over ice.

Note: Look for dried lavender flowers in spice shops or natural food stores. If using lavender from the garden, make sure it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides.

Disney pineapple Dole Whip

Disney pineapple Dole Whip

2. Disney Pineapple Dole Whip

My older daughter loves Disney. No, that's not quite accurate. She is obsessed with Disney! She loves every movie, character, and theme park attraction. And so, we (or she) have visited Disneyland (west coast) and Disney World (east coast) more times than I would like to admit to.

When you are weary of the long lines or are over-dosed on rides, you need to fine something soothing, relaxing, and low cost! The Dole Whip is a cool, refreshing oasis. And, here is how to enjoy it without the flight to California or Florida.

Pineapple crisp

Pineapple crisp

3. Pineapple Crisp

What's better, sweeter, yummier than pineapple? What about pineapple crisp with a crumbly, oaty, brown sugar topping, warm from the oven, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top?

Pineapple-cucumber-mint popsicles

Pineapple-cucumber-mint popsicles

4. Pineapple-Cucumber-Mint Popsicles

Or perhaps you are craving something not quite so sweet, a little less decadent? Perhaps you want a summertime treat that is cool and refreshing. Perhaps it's time to make these pineapple-cucumber-mint popsicles.

Grilled pineapple salsa

Grilled pineapple salsa

5. Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Grilling fruits and vegetables creates a totally new level of flavors; the natural sugars char, caramelize, and provide a rich smoky flavor. When you make this grilled pineapple salsa, be sure to grill a few extra pineapple rings—they make a wonderful snack.

BBQ chicken bacon pineapple kabobs

BBQ chicken bacon pineapple kabobs

6. BBQ Chicken Bacon Pineapple Kabobs

Speaking of grilling, the flavors of chicken, bacon, sweet-smokey barbecue sauce, and pineapple were simply made for each other. These chicken-pineapple kebobs are quick and easy. And, if you don't have a grill they can be baked in the oven.

Hawaiian chickpea veggie burgers

Hawaiian chickpea veggie burgers

7. Hawaiian Chickpea Veggie Burgers

Love to grill but you're vegetarian, or vegan, or simply trying to put more plant-based foods in your diet. Try these chickpea burgers with the tropical flavors of avocado and pineapple. You won't miss the meat, trust me.

Sweet and sour crockpot chicken

Sweet and sour crockpot chicken

8. Sweet and Sour Crockpot Chicken

Maybe the weather has turned cold and you want warm comfort food; maybe it's summer and the last thing you need is a hot kitchen. Or maybe you're just craving sweet and sour. This crockpot chicken with pineapple covers all the bases.

© 2017 Linda Lum