How to Cut a Pineapple Whether You Want Spears, Slices, or Chunks
The tangy, tropical flavor of pineapple is a natural fit for balmy summer days and nights, whether you're blending the fruit into a pina colada, mixing it into a fresh fruit salad, or using it to top off a pineapple upside-down cake.
But because of the pineapple's tough outer skin, it can be tricky to figure out how best to cut it to get the maximum amount of juicy fruit.
To help guide you through this task, we've consulted two experts with substantial pineapple-cutting experience: Angela Johnson, the VP of innovation and merchandising at Edible Arrangements in Atlanta, Georgia; and Shaun King, chef de cuisine at Uchiko in Houston, Texas.
What to Look for When Buying Fresh Pineapple
The pineapple's outer shell conceals the inner fruit so effectively that it's very difficult to tell whether a pineapple is ripe by sight alone. That said, the color of the outer skin can give you a decent sense of the pineapple's ripeness level.
Seek out a pineapple with a yellow shell. Pineapples with green shells are typically underripe, while pineapples with dark gold or orange skins are past their prime.
Next, give the bottom of the pineapple a sniff. A ripe pineapple will have a fruity fragrance, while an underripe pineapple with have no scent at all. An overripe pineapple may have a vinegary smell.
Finally, give the pineapple a gentle squeeze. A ripe pineapple will have a nice weight in the hand, and it will have a bit of give when you squeeze it. If the pineapple is rock hard, it probably needs more time to ripe. If the pineapple feels at all soft or squishy, then it has ripened too far.
How To Cut A Pineapple
Pineapple chunks are ideal for fruit salads, simple snacks, or parfaits. Spears are delicious as snacks, too, but they can also be grilled for desserts or used to flavor water or cocktails.
How to cut pineapple spears or chunks:
1. Wash the pineapple.
The pineapple's outer shell should get a rinse before you cut in to prevent the risk of transferring dirt or germs to the fruit you'll eat. Run the pineapple under cold water for a few moments. If you have access to a produce brush, give it a quick scrub to remove errant bits of grime.
Dry the pineapple off with paper towels or tea towels so you don't spread too much water to the fruit when you cut the pineapple.
2. Cut off the top and bottom.
"First, cut the top and bottom off the pineapple, and place the pineapple flat-side-down on the table," Johnson says. Cutting the ends off and standing the pineapple up makes it easier to fulfill the next step.
Don't toss that top! You can use a pineapple top to regrow a whole new fruit.
3. Remove the skin.
Using a sharp chef's knife or a long serrated knife, "remove the skin by cutting away the outer peel from top to bottom," instructs Johnson.
Try to keep the knife as close to the skin so you don't accidentally remove too much fruit. The sweetest part of the fruit is closer to the skin, so if you cut deep into the pineapple, you're tossing great fruit.
If there are any eyes, or hard brown spots, on the fruit after you remove the skin, you can use a small paring knife or the end of a pineapple corer to cut away those eyes.
4. Cut the pineapple into wedges.
Once the skin has been fully removed, "cut the pineapple away from the core into four [vertical] wedges."
The core is tough and slightly more bitter, but it is edible. We also recommend using it to flavor a glass of water.
5. Slice the wedges into spears.
For pineapple spears, cut each wedge into vertical strips. Johnson says that you can get three to four strips out of a wedge.
6. Dice the spears for pineapple chunks.
To get fruit salad-perfect pineapple chunks, cut the strips into one- to two-inch pieces.
How to cut pineapple rings:
1. Wash the pineapple
Rinse the whole pineapple under cool water for several moments. Use a produce brush to knock off any dirt, if you have one. Then, use paper towels or a tea towel to dry the outside of the pineapple well.
2. Cut off the top and bottom and remove the skin.
Use a large chef's knife or long serrated knife to cut off the pineapple's top and bottom. The flat surface will make the next steps easier.
King does recommend holding onto the leafy top of the pineapple: "The pineapple leaves make a great cocktail garnish."
3. Slice the whole pineapple in half.
"Slice in half at the equator of the pineapple," says King. Pineapple corers can't reach the full length of a pineapple, so having two halves will make the next step easier.
4. Remove the core.
Use a "circular corer to punch out the center of each half." If you don't have a corer, you can use a skinny serrated knife to encircle the core. Then, push on it with your thumb to pop the core out of the fruit.
5. Slice rings to your desired thickness.
Once the core is out of the pineapple halves, slice the halves into rings. Thicker rings are good for grilling; thinner rings might be preferred for cakes.
How to Store Pineapple Once It's Been Cut
Cut pineapple is easy to store in the fridge, but it's important to remember that it has a relatively short shelf life: Once the fruit is placed in the fridge, it will stay fresh for up to 4 days.
"Pineapple should be stored in either an airtight container or tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and then refrigerated," says Johnson.
King adds that "a plastic Ziploc bag" is also a viable storage option for cut pineapple.
Ways to Use Fresh Pineapple
Now that you have fresh pineapple rings, spears, or chunks, make use of them with these favorite pineapple recipes: