In the eighties of the last century, the cultivation of tropical pineapple was introduced on the island of El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary archipelago. At present, the pineapple is grown mainly in the municipality of La Frontera. The most commonly produced varieties of tropical pineapple are Roja Española and MD2 or Gold. In 2020 the production obtained was 1.3 million kilos.
Pineapple, a tropical fruit cultivated on El Hierro
The pineapple was a symbol of hospitality in the indigenous tribes and was offered to visitors as a sign of friendship. Christopher Columbus, on his second voyage in November 1493, came across it on the island of Guadeloupe. The sailors who accompanied him realized that this fruit could prevent scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C, and since then pineapple production has spread throughout the world.
As mentioned above, the pineapple originated in South America and from there it reached Europe, where it was given the name "pineapple" due to its resemblance to the fruit of the pine tree. The Brazilian natives called it "ananás" which means excellent fruit.
This special fruit is grown in the Canary Islands, being the island of El Hierro the most important of the whole archipelago in terms of hectares dedicated to its cultivation. Although its size is not always the same, its powerful flavor and low sugar content makes it different from other pineapples that come from Hawaii or South America. The variety that has best adapted to our climate is the Española Roja.
Pineapple varieties and properties
There are different varieties of pineapple, as we mentioned, the best adapted is the Española Roja. This has a medium size and its leaves are short and small. Its weight is usually around one kilo, its external color is usually yellow-orange and barrel-shaped. Its pulp is fleshy and whitish in color.
The pineapple is composed of 85% water, being a very low calorie food. It is rich in vitamins C, A, B1, potassium, magnesium, iron and folic acid. One of its main curiosities is that it contains an enzyme called bromelain that facilitates digestion.
Among the existing pineapple varieties we can highlight the following:
Cayenne Lisa. It has no thorns and its fruits are large and cylindrical. The cayenne is dark yellowish orange in color and has a light yellow pulp or with a nice golden hue.
Esmeralda. With similar characteristics to the smooth cayenne, it has a very light yellow pulp, almost white.
Queen. It is one of the oldest varieties, cultivated mainly in South Africa. Its fruit has an almost spherical shape, a golden yellowish color and intense yellow flesh. It is not very juicy, but has an extraordinary aroma and keeps very well.
Sugar loaf or sugar loaf. It is one of the most appreciated varieties for its sweetness and juiciness.
Del Monte Gold. It has an "extra sweet" flavor, a golden color and a higher vitamin C content. Its skin is thicker and heavier than other varieties.
Functions and properties of the pineapple herreña
Its most important functions are depurative, helping to regulate circulation in the liver. The anti-inflammatory, very useful in cases of tendinitis and rheumatic diseases. It is also protective against cancer, as it interferes in the development of malignant cells. It is also anti-catarrhal, due to its high content of vitamin C and is good for the skin as it helps to clean and heal wounds, scars and ulcers.
The pineapple has a high water content, a low caloric value and is rich in fiber. It contains vitamins C, B1, B6, B9 and E, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iodine, copper and manganese. It has diuretic, detoxifying, antacid and anti-inflammatory properties. Among its non-nutritive components, pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme similar to digestive enzymes that helps digest proteins and improve digestion, this enzyme is also used as a natural meat tenderizer.
Use in the kitchen of the pineapple herreña
Its great versatility, together with its excellent flavor, makes it combine perfectly with a multitude of foods. The pineapple from El Hierro, having little sugar and a high acidity, gives us a lot of play when elaborating a multitude of combinations, not only with sweet recipes, but also with salty, cold and hot recipes. In addition to the elaboration of mojos, chimichurris, marinades, without forgetting the juices, smoothies, cocktails, sorbets among others.
If you are interested in the world of products made in the Canary Islands and want to know more about them, here are several articles for you to read and take some of the sweetness out of your mouth: Canary Island hot pepper, fundamental ingredient; Malvasia volcanica, the Lanzarote grape; Malvasia volcanica, the Lanzarote grape; Morena in the Canary Islands, tradition and beauty.
Photos: bodegacanaria.es; holaislascanarias.com; efeagro; Guía Repsol