3 Ways to Tell If a Pineapple Is Ripe (and Sweet) Before You Buy It

Is it ripe, sweet, and ready to eat? A pineapple farmer explains how to tell.

Some fruit can be tested for ripeness easily, and in just a few seconds. A tomato? Color and feel are dead giveaways. A banana? Easy. Other fruits, not so much. Like watermelon, pineapple is a fruit that has more secret clues to ripeness than obvious ones.

Unfortunately, the texture of a pineapple is not a good way to tell if it's ripe, according to Emanuela Vinciguerra, a pineapple farmer and educator at Kumu Farms, which grows tropical fruit on the Hawaiian Islands of Molokai and Maui. "For pineapple, it's not really the feel," she says. "Even when it's really ripe, it's kind of hard."

So how do you know when a pineapple is ripe and ready to eat? Skip the squeeze test and check out these other pineapple attributes that are far more useful.

How to Tell If a Pineapple Is Ripe

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Tug the Leaves

A single pineapple usually has between 30 and 40 spiky dark green leaves, which bear some similarities to agave and succulents. On an unripe pineapple, these tough leaves will be firmly embedded into the pineapple and difficult to remove without tugging hard. But as a pineapple ripens, its leaves change.

"If you are able to take off one of its leaves easily—boop—that's a sign that it's ripe," Vincinguerra says. She adds that pulling a leaf until it detaches should "not be a struggle. It should come off easily."

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Smell the Bottom

Unripe pineapples lack aroma, Vincinguerra says. On the other hand, fully ripe pineapples have a certain easily detectable smell.

When smelling the bottom for ripeness, she expects a sweet, rich smell, not unlike the bright, tropical, sugary spirit of the ripe fruit's flavor. When there's a "sweet smell," she says, there's a "sweet taste."

She also believes that a sweet smell tells you the pineapple won't be as acidic. A lot of the acidic notes will have mellowed with ripeness, allowing fruity nuances to shine.

RELATED: 16 Fresh Pineapple Recipes

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Check for Yellow

This ripeness clue is more obvious, but it's still worth emphasizing. At supermarkets, pineapples often appear green. Green pineapples are underripe. A pineapple is ripe and ready once it has turned yellowish—and not a smidge, but a good portion of the fruit.

Vicinguerra explains: "When at least one side has yellow color… that's the best tip." Don't cut your pineapple until it has lost most, if not all, of its green.

How to Store Pineapple

Should you put a pineapple in the refrigerator? "Never!" Vicinquerra says. She advises keeping green pineapples out of the refrigerator—no exceptions. But she softens her stance for fully ripe yellow pineapples.

"When the fruit is ripe and it has turned all yellow, that's the only time you can put a pineapple in the fridge."

Even so, she recommends that you eat refrigerated pineapples within a tight window—three to five days maximum. And keep them in the crisper until you're ready.

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