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Brazilian Red Pineapples
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Brazilian Red pineapples have a bright red skin and each of the individual compound fruits that have fused to make the whole fruit are accented by red flower remnants or bracts. The leafy crown is green or variegated and has spikes along the often red-tipped margins. The fruits have an elongated oval shape and are smaller than commercial varieties, though they can weigh up to 2 pounds (1 kilogram) each. They have less flesh than other varieties with a moderately sized core. The flesh is white or a pinkish-yellow, contains little juice, and may or may not have seeds. The taste is sweet and mild.
Brazilian Red pineapples are available in the summer and fall months.
Brazilian Red pineapple are botanically known as Ananas bracteatus and are rarely found in the United States. Native to the Amazon where monsoon season lasts from December through April, Red pineapples require a lot of water to produce edible fruits. When grown in drier conditions the fruits are generally considered ornamental. They are found in tropical climates, and under the right conditions, the fruit are considered edible when fully ripe.
Brazilian Red pineapples are high in vitamin C, and contain bromelain, an enzyme that has anti-inflammatory properties and is used in pharmacology. The red color of the fruit’s skin is due to the presence of anthocyanin, a phytochemical that offers antioxidant properties.
Brazilian Red pineapple can be eaten raw or cooked. Use caution when handling the fruits, as the slower remnants and crown leaves have sharp spikes along the margins. The skin, crown and bottom are removed, exposing the flesh. Cut the flesh away from the core and dice or slice into pieces. Use fresh Brazilian Red pineapple in fruit salads alongside mangoes, bananas and citrus, or add to smoothies. Puree the fruit and use in sauces, marinades or cocktails. Pair Brazilian Red pineapple with roasted meats like ham and chicken, with creamy cheeses like blue cheese or cream cheese, with black garlic, fennel and basil. Store ripe Brazilian Red pineapples in the refrigerator, upside-down to allow sugars to redistribute from base to crown, for up to 5 days.
Until recently, the edibility of the Brazilian Red pineapple has been dependent on the wet, monsoon conditions in the rainforest. The color and the nutritional value of the fruit gave one botanist the idea to create a red pineapple that will produce edible fruit without the dependence on the monsoons. In a process that took over 20 years, Brazilian botanist Pedro Nahoum, crossed the Brazilian Red pineapple with the more common edible pineapple and created two varieties which will be released in the Rio de Janeiro market in 2018. This new red pineapple also features edible skin.
Brazilian Red pineapples are native to the Atlantic Forest, along the eastern coast of Brazil, and are found in parts of Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina. The plants are most often used for their ornamental value, especially as security hedging due to their long spiny leaves. The leaves are fibrous and in Brazil are used for ropes and textiles. They are sold as ornamental plants in the United States, Hawaii, New Zealand and Brazil. In areas where there are substantial rains, the plants will produce edible fruits.