The Pineapple

The pineapple is neither a pine nor an apple, and it is not native to Hawaii. However, since it was first canned and became a major crop there, we associate pineapple with Hawaii and the tastes of the islands. It has wonderful tenderizing enzymes and goes especially well with pork as well as poultry, seafood, and sweet-and-sour dishes. Of course, there are always plenty of dessert recipes using pineapple.

Pineapple History

Ananas comosus is the botanical name of the fruit we know as the pineapple. Native to South America, it was named for its resemblance to a pine cone — the pine cone reference first appearing in print in 1398. The term pineapple (or pinappel in Middle English) did not appear in print until nearly three centuries later in 1664.

Christopher Columbus is credited with discovering the pineapple on the island of Guadeloupe in 1493, although the fruit had long been grown in South America. He called it piña de Indes meaning “pine of the Indians.”

South American Guarani Indians cultivated pineapples for food. They called it nanã, meaning “excellent fruit.”

Another explorer, Magellan, is credited with finding pineapples in Brazil in 1519, and by 1555, the luscious fruit was being exported with gusto to England. It soon spread to India, Asia, and the West Indies.

When George Washington tasted pineapple in 1751 in Barbados, he declared it his favorite tropical fruit. Although the pineapple thrived in Florida, it was still a rarity for most Americans.

Captain James Cook later introduced the pineapple to Hawaii circa 1770. However, commercial cultivation did not begin until the 1880s when steamships made transporting the perishable fruit viable.

In 1903, James Drummond Dole began canning pineapple, making it easily accessible worldwide. Production stepped up dramatically when a new machine automated the skinning and coring of the fruit. The Dole Hawaiian Pineapple Company was a booming business by 1921, making pineapple Hawaii’s largest crop and industry.

Today, Hawaii produces only ten percent of the world’s pineapple crops. Other countries contributing to the pineapple industry include Mexico, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Philippines, Thailand, Costa Rica, China, and Asia.

Pineapple is the third most canned fruit behind applesauce and peaches.

From an article by Peggy T. Filippone.

History of Hawaiian Pineapple

The exact date of the first pineapples grown in Hawaii is a subject of historical debate. Some historians believe that it arrived on Spanish ships from the New World as early as 1527. It is known that Francisco de Paula Marin, a Spanish horticultural experimenter who was arrived in Hawaii in 1794 after being shanghaied from San Francisco. Marin became a friend and advisor to King Kamehameha I and is known to have experimented with raising pineapples in the early 1800s.

Captain John Kidwell is most often credited with founding Hawaii’s pineapple industry. He began crop development trials in 1885 when he planted pineapple in Manoa on the island of Oahu. It was, however, James Drummond Dole who is most credited with advancing the industry in Hawaii. In 1900 Dole purchased 61 acres in Wahiawa in Central Oahu and began experimenting with pineapple. In 1901 he incorporated the Hawaiian Pineapple Company and began commercial growing of the fruit. Dole is forever known as Hawaii’s “Pineapple King.”

As reported on the website of the Dole Plantation, Inc., in 1907, Dole established a cannery near the Honolulu harbor, which was closer to the labor pool, shipping ports and supplies. This cannery, at one time the world’s largest cannery, remained in operation until 1991.

Dole is also the one who is responsible for pineapple production on the island of Lanai, once known as the “Pineapple Island.” In 1922, James Dole bought the entire island of Lanai and converted it from a cactus-covered island with 150 people into the largest pineapple plantation in the world with 20,000 pineapple-producing acres and over a thousand pineapple workers and their families. Pineapple production on Lanai ended in October 1992.

By the middle of the 20th Century there were eight pineapple companies in Hawaii employing more than 3,000 people. Hawaii was the pineapple capital of the world growing over 80 percent of the world’s pineapple. Pineapple production was Hawaii’s second largest industry, second only to sugar cane. With rising costs of labor and production in the USA, this is no longer the case.

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