By this point in the winter we’re dreaming of snacking on sweet, succulent pineapple while lounging in a swaying beachside hammock. Although they’re available all year long, the tangy, tropical fruit is at its peak ripeness from March to July, making this month a perfect time to start enjoying the bold taste of this delicious fruit once again.

The vibrant flavor of pineapples works great in all kinds of sweet or savory appetizers, entrées, and desserts. And of course, no summer dream is complete without a cool, refreshing piña colada or mai tai. But knowing how to pick the right one can be the difference between a perfectly balanced sweet and tangy fruit, and a too tart, bitter mess. With this in mind, here are three things to look for when picking pineapples from the store.

Curious why pineapple leaves your mouth sore? 


How to pick the best pineapple every time

The Base

The bottom of the pineapple is the most fragrant area of the fruit, so if you want to know a fruit is ready, turn it over and take a sniff. If it’s ripe, you’ll smell a sweet fragrance, but if it’s not ready you won’t smell anything. If you smell vinegar or if it’s oozing, stay away! It means it’s past its prime.


How to pick the best pineapple every time

The Skin

A perfect pineapple will have a golden skin color. You will likely see the color most vibrant yellow at the base, gradually lightening or greening as you move toward the crown. The more uniform the color all over the fruit, the riper it is.

The Dole website says that ripe pineapples can be green on the outside — it’s called “green-shell ripe.” But most pineapples will change color as they ripen, so if you’re unsure, color can be an indicator. If you found a green fruit you’d like to purchase, use the nose test. It is the most reliable anyway.

Additionally, look for large knots on the pineapple, especially near the skin, as this means the fruit had enough time to ripen on the tree before it was picked.


How to pick the best pineapple every time

Overall

Select a pineapple that is plump and fresh looking. Green leaves in the crown are a good sign. The body should be firm, but not soft. The larger the pineapple, the most edible fruit inside, but size doesn’t usually factor into flavor.


Storing a pineapple

If you’re not ready to eat your pineapple right away, the best way to keep it fresh for longer is by storing it in the refrigerator.


ALSO TRY, Refreshing pineapple, cucumber salad.


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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.