Pineapple Flavor

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Pineapples are remarkable for the intensity of their flavor, the experience of which the 19th-century English writer Charles Lamb described as “almost too transcendent . . . a pleasure bordering on pain, from the fierceness and insanity of her relish.” At their best they are both very sweet and quite tart (from citric acid), and with a rich aroma provided by a complex mixture of fruity esters, pungent sulfur compounds, essences of vanilla and clove (vanillin, eugenol), and several oxygen-containing carbon rings with caramel and sherry overtones. A given pineapple has many different flavor zones. The fruitlets near the base form first and are therefore the oldest and sweetest, and the acidity of the flesh doubles from the core to the surface. Thanks to their assertive flavor and firm, somewhat fibrous flesh, pineapples can be cut into chunks and baked, grilled, or fried. They have an affinity for the flavors of butter and caramel and work well in baked goods, as well as various raw preparations (salsas, drinks, sorbets).