Pineapple Enzymes

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Pineapples contain several active protein-digesting enzymes that are used in meat tenderizers, but can cause problems in other prepared dishes. (In medicine they have been exploited as a means of cleaning burns and other wounds, and they help control inflammatory diseases in animals.) Bromelain, the major enzyme, will break down gelatin, so pineapple for gelatin-based desserts must be cooked first, to inactivate the enzyme. And if incorporated into a mixture containing milk or cream, bromelain will break down the casein proteins and produce bitter-tasting protein fragments. Again, precooking the pineapple will prevent this.