Kathryn Vercillo is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and blogger. She writes about food, nutrition, and health.
So you're interested in learning more about pineapple. Perhaps you want to make great pineapple beverages to cool off during the long summer months. Or maybe you're looking at ways of skewering and grilling pineapple on the BBQ. Or perhaps you're just looking to add more of this nutrient-rich, tasty fruit to your diet either in a fresh fruit salad or in a variety of cooked dishes. Sounds great!
It also sounds simple. Although not everyone knows how to select a pineapple, most people believe that getting one is fairly easy. You go to the store, find the pineapple in the produce section or the canned fruits section, and away you go.
However, you'll have more recipe options and better-tasting food if you learn about the different pineapple types and pineapple styles that are available at your local supermarket.
Pineapple Type vs. Pineapple Style: What's the Difference?
What do I mean when I talk about type vs. style? Let's break it down.
- Pineapple type refers to the actual type (species) of fruit that you are purchasing. Many people mistakenly believe that a pineapple is a pineapple—when in actuality there are many different varieties out there, each with its own textures and flavors.
- Pineapple style has to do with the way that the fruit is cut and packaged. Any pineapple type might be cut into various different styles.
Let's explore both of these categories more closely.
5 Most Common Pineapples Types in the U.S.
There are many different pineapple types that are available. Some are easier to find in U.S. markets than others, and some are only found in certain regions of the country. A smattering of the most common types of pineapple that you might find includes:
Smooth Cayenne Pineapple
- Exterior: Green and yellow
- Interior: Light yellow, juicy
- Flavor: Tangy and sweet
- Cultivated in: Hawaii and Honduras
This name sounds exotic and spicy—but the truth is that this type of pineapple is one of the most common types sold in the U.S. market and is probably the one that you're most familiar with. You can buy it fresh, and it is also commonly used for packaged pineapple, too.
It has a strong acid content as well as a high sugar content, which contributes to the tangy-but-sweet taste that you're so familiar with.
Most of the pineapples that come from Hawaii or Honduras and are sold through major distributors like Dole and Del Monte are smooth cayenne pineapples. One Hawaiian variation is called the Hilo pineapple, which is very similar but more cylindrical in shape.
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Red Spanish Pineapple
- Exterior: Yellowish red, squarish in shape, sharp "saw-toothed" leaves
- Interior: Very light yellow, fibrous
- Flavor: Aromatic
- Cultivated: Puerto Rico, Mexico, Philippines, and Venezuela
If you have ever eaten a pineapple that was more white than yellow then there is a good chance that you were eating the Red Spanish variety. This type ships well, and many of them come from Puerto Rico.
When you bite into it, you'll notice that this type of pineapple tends to feel more fibrous than the typical Smooth Cayenne variety.
- Exterior: Yellow, smaller variety
- Interior: Dark yellow with a small core
- Flavor: Very sweet
- Cultivated: Australia and South Africa
Has anyone ever handed you a piece of pineapple that was so yellow that it was almost orange? It may have been a Queen pineapple, one of the sweetest types available in the U.S. market.
Kona Sugarloaf Pineapple
- Exterior: Tall and narrow with smooth, bright green leaves
- Interior: White with soft, edible core
- Flavor: Light and sweet
- Cultivated: Hawaii
This type of pineapple was common in the United States about a decade ago but has been declining in availability ever since. Still, you might come across it and if you do it's worth a try because it's a low-acid pineapple that has a juicy, watery, light, sweet taste. This type looks tall and narrow and has very smooth, bright green leaves.
- Exterior: Yellow with long, spiny leaves
- Interior: Pale yellow, tender, juicy
- Flavor: Very sweet
- Cultivated: Brazil
This type doesn't ship well so you might not come across it very often. However, it's sometimes available. The fruit is pale yellow and very sweet although not as sweet as the Queen pineapple.
5 Pineapple Styles
When we talk about pineapple styles, we are talking about the different cuts that are available for this fruit. If you are purchasing a fresh pineapple and cutting it yourself at home, you won't need to know this information at the store. However, it's helpful to learn about it since it gives you a range of different slicing and dicing options for your own recipes. Common styles of pineapple include:
- Pineapple slices: This is the most common way that people choose to cut their own fresh pineapples. If you are looking for packaged pineapple that is cut in the form of rings then you are looking for pineapple slices. If you are making burgers, you might add pineapple slices (rings) for a tropical touch.
- Pineapple spears: The difference between pineapple slices and pineapple spears is that the slices have been cut widthwise whereas spears are made by cutting the fruit lengthwise.
- Pineapple chunks: People who are seeking packaged pineapple that has essentially been diced are looking for pineapple chunks. People who buy frozen pineapple usually get pineapple chunks. If you are buying the fruit to skewer for the grill then you might want chunks (although spears would be another option).
- Pineapple tidbits: Mostly a name used for marketing, pineapple tidbits are very similar to pineapple chunks. If there's a difference it tends to be that tidbits are smaller.
- Crushed pineapple: This style of pineapple is made in exactly the way the name suggests. What you get is tiny little pieces of fruit. If you're buying pineapple to use as a topping for something then you might want to buy this type.
Delicious Pineapple Recipes
- Pineapple Delight Dessert: A Slice of Tropical Heaven
If you could eat heaven with a spoon, this slice would be it.
- Perfectly Sweet and Savory Southern Pineapple Casserole
An old-fashioned Southern classic, this lusciously sweet and savory casserole is officially a side dish, but it does a great masquerade as a dessert. It's lovely for holidays, too.
- How to Make Pineapple-Infused Vodka
Step-by-step photos and instructions for making your own pineapple-infused vodka. It's an easy and enjoyable project with tasty results. Drink recipes included.
Learn More About Pineapples
- Exploring Pineapple: History and Recipes
Let me tell you about the fruit that doesn't come from a pine tree, is not related to the apple, and didn't originate in Hawaii. The pineapple has a long history and can be used in so many recipes.
- A Guide to Choosing a Ripe Pineapple
In-depth description of several of the different types of pineapple.