How to Tell If a Pineapple Is Ripe Before Buying It

We asked a pineapple farmer to share tips for picking a pineapple that's ready to eat.

Knowing how to tell if a pineapple is ripe is not easy. Unlike with some fruit—like fresh tomatoes or bananas—using the texture of a pineapple is not a good way to tell if it's ripe, explains 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," Vinciguerra says. "Even when it's really ripe, it's kind of hard." So how do you know when a pineapple is ready to eat? Skip the squeeze test and use these tips for picking a ripe and sweet pineapple so you can enjoy the immune-boosting benefits of eating pineapple.

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Squeeze the Pineapple

Squeeze your pineapple for a reliable indicator of ripeness. Ripe pineapples should feel firm but not hard. If it's rock solid, then it's not ripe yet. Pineapples that are too soft to the touch may be going bad.

02 of 05

Check for Yellow

At supermarkets, pineapples often appear green. Green pineapples are underripe. A pineapple is ripe and ready once it has turned yellowish—not a smidge, but a good portion of the fruit.

Vinciguerra 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.

Also, avoid pineapples that have soft spots or look opaque. For a ripe pineapple, you want a smooth and shiny surface.

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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, the leaves change.

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

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Feel Its Weight

Another way to determine the ripeness of a pineapple is to see if it feels heavy in proportion to its size. If your pineapple feels heavy when you hold it, it's probably ripe.

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Smell the Bottom

Unripe pineapples lack aroma, Vinciguerra says. On the other hand, fully ripe pineapples have a unique and easily detectable smell. When smelling the bottom for ripeness, look for a sweet, rich scent, similar to the bright, tropical, sugary spirit of the ripe fruit's flavor.

When there's a "sweet smell," Vinciguerra adds, there's a "sweet taste." A sweet smell can also indicate that the pineapple won't be as acidic. A lot of the acidic notes will have mellowed with ripeness, allowing fruity nuances to shine.

How to Store Pineapple

Should you put pineapples in the refrigerator? "Never!" Vinciguerra says. Vinciguerra recommends keeping green pineapples on a counter and out of the fridge—no exceptions. "When the fruit is ripe, and it has turned all yellow, that's the only time you can put a pineapple in the fridge."

You can place a whole ripe pineapple, uncovered, in the fridge. For cut pineapple, place the fruit in food containers to store in the refrigerator. You can also freeze diced or sliced pineapple in freezer-friendly containers or bags.

Vinciguerra suggests eating refrigerated pineapple within a tight window—three to five days maximum. And keep it in the crisper until you're ready to eat. Frozen pineapple will keep longer—up to a year if stored properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do pineapples ripen on the counter?

    Yes, pineapples can ripen if left on the counter—usually between three to five days. To speed up the process, put your pineapple in a paper bag and add an apple or a banana. Leave it on the counter at room temperature, and you'll have a ripe pineapple in one to two days.

  • What does overripe pineapple look like?

    You'll know if your pineapple is overripe if its skin is a dull yellow. If the color is brown-gray, then it's rotten.

    The surface might also feel slimy when overripe or rotten. The leaves of a pineapple are also a sign: If the leaves are brown, wilting, or falling, then your pineapple is overripe.

  • Does turning a pineapple upside down make it sweeter?

    While some suggest turning a pineapple upside down for a sweeter taste, this fruit hack is not agreed upon. The theory is that since pineapples tend to be sweeter on the bottom, flipping it will help distribute the sweet juice throughout.

    Others say it doesn't matter whether you store a pineapple upright, on its side, or upside down. You may have to try this for yourself and see what you think.

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