No, they don’t. I even have had people asking me if pineapples or ‘ananas’ grow above or below ground! A good question since some people believe in spaghetti trees… The pineapple plant is actually related to the ‘Bromeliads’ – the plants we buy because they have such beautiful flowers, even if only one in the centre, and they last a long time. It’s hard to imagine how pineapples grow if you hold one of these spiky ripe fruits in your hand.
The pineapple is a plant like a bromeliad with spiky hard leaves, can grow a meter wide and a metre high with a flower in the centre out of which will grow a stem with the developing fruit. The crown of the fruit, again with spiky leaves, can be removed with a slight twist and pull and used to prepare for planting outdoors or even in a pot indoors. It will not grow as big, wide and tall indoors as it can outdoors under the right conditions.
A pineapple is the fruit of a blooming flower. I have never seen one in bloom but certainly eaten a few hundred of this delicacy. I feel upset if I see people cutting out the inner slightly harder ‘stem ‘. This strong stem is the central feeding tube for the fruit. It contains everything the fruit needs to grow, ripen and develop the delicate unique flavor. It is full of enzymes and vitamins and certainly contains more of these than the fruit itself. Therefore, you should always eat the stem as well. In commercial harvesting the stem is removed for its high content of Bromelain, a protein digesting enzyme. You are familiar with the canned pineapple rings, right? These may be refreshing but they have lost most of their nutritious value. Eaten fresh and ripe you get most of your daily requirement of vitamin C, a good variety of the B vitamins, a lot of essential minerals and the special enzymes bromelain and papain, another protein digesting enzyme. It might be a good idea to eat fresh pineapples after a heavy meal! Native people of certain countries cut up the stem, marinated it and use it for tenderizing meat. Folklore also believes pineapples are good for arthritis and the prevention of other diseases. I am sure your grandma has told you more than one time “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” I believe in a variety of fruit will do that as well.
Once the pineapple is cut off from its mother plant it will not grow or ripen anymore. When you buy it in a store, check if it is ripe and ready to eat: Pull on the centre small leaves of the crown. If they come out easily, it’s ripe. Also, try a little twist of the whole crown and if you feel it moving easily, it is ready. Smell it at the bottom, it should give you a good fresh and not yet fermenting whiff of its scent.
Eat it as fresh as possible. Use it in stir fry AFTER cooking, in deserts, on cakes or on its own. I love it added to my baby ribs once they are done. (never cook it as the enzymes are destroyed) If you would like to grow it, take the crown you twisted off, pull out all the small and some of the larger leaves at the bottom and cut the base into an inverted pyramid. Some people advise placing it above some water until the first roots appear others say ‘not necessary, just plant it into a pot and place mulch around it.’ Apparently it is very easy to grow indoors but it takes about two years until a flower and then the fruit appears. It likes sunshine but also does alright in dappled shade. Frost kills it. You can also watch out for little suckers and plant those as well. One thing the pineapple plant does not like: Too much water, hardly any. Just keep some around the leaves the same way you care for your bromeliad. The lowest rotting leaves feed the plant. It’s nature’s fertilizer.