When you travel to Kauai, a must-have on your trip is a delicious sugar loaf pineapple, with a sweet and juicy center. Season bloom for pineapples is twelve to eighteen months, and during this time, the pineapples grow from small purple flowers in large stems that eventually become the crown of the plant. While there are several varieties of pineapples available, both locally grown and imported, the sugarloaf pineapple is delectably sweet and well-known in Kauai.
Is your Kauai sugarloaf pineapple ripe?
Selecting the perfect sugarloaf pineapple is a different process than the traditional yellow/gold varieties. The white sugarloaf pineapple should appear green on the outside, with yellow dots in the center of the eyes that need to appear swollen, not flat. The outside flesh will be much harder than a traditional pineapple juxtaposed with a rich center flesh with an edible core and a no strings. Because sugar weighs more than water you can use this to your advantage to pick the sweetest pineapple. The heavier the pineapple for its size, the sweeter and juicier the pineapple will be. Sugarloaf pineapples are known as the sweetest, most delicious and lowest acid variety.
Special Note-Pulling a leaf from the crown of the pineapple to determine ripeness is a complete myth. Also, smelling a pineapple does not indicate ripeness. If it has a strong scent, then it is overripe.
Where to find a Kauai grown sugarloaf pineapple:
Because approximately 95% of Kauai’s food is imported, finding real Kauai grown pineapples can be a bit of a task. Traditional growing season yields fruit from mid-June through September, with peak ripeness in July. Some farmers like Hole in the Mountain Farm force the pineapples so they can sell sugarloaf pineapples year round. If you want to eat it right away select the ripest pineapple, however, if you want to bring one home select one that is less ripe so you can enjoy it in a few days.
Several farmers on the island offer tropical fruits like the sugarloaf pineapple. Olana Organic Farm is run by Tim O’Connor and is a three-acre parcel dedicated to a more sustainable lifestyle. He attends the farmers markets at Kilauea on Thursdays at 4:30pm as well as Namahana Farmers Market on Saturdays from 9am-1:00pm. Hole in the Mountain Farm sits on thirty-eight acres and the owners, Paul and Jude Huber are Kauai Grow members. Their products can be purchased online or at farmer’s markets held at Kauai Culinary Market on Wednesdays at 4:30pm as well as Kauai Community College on Saturdays at 9:30am.
Want to grow your own Kauai sugarloaf pineapple?
No problem! There are great articles out there on how to grow your own pineapple from the crown of a fruited plant. While you do not need a lot of skills, you do need quite a bit of patience since a pineapple takes between two and three years to fruit.
Step 1: Remove the crown from the plant. You can twist it or cut it off. You will also want to remove all of the flesh of the pineapple and excess leaves so you remain with about 6 in the center.
Step 2: Dry the leaves out for a few days.
Step 3: Submerge the bottom of the crown in a bowl of about a half inch of water, leaving the top leaves out. Place the bowl in the sun and leave it for two weeks, changing the water every couple of days.
Step 4: After a few weeks you should see the plant sprouting roots. You can then plant it, place it in a very sunny spot and water it regularly. Make sure the room temperature is between 60 and 75 degrees. You want your plant to get at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.
Step 5: Re-plant into a bigger pot after about a year.
Step 6: After all of your patience, you can finally enjoy the fruits of your labor in 2-3 years.