The Difference Between Different Pineapple Types and Pineapple StylesUpdate: 12/22/2012
Pineapple Types vs. Pineapple Styles
What is the difference between the type of pineapple that you buy and the style of pineapple that you purchase? Quite a lot. Pineapple type refers to the actual type of fruit that you are purchasing. Many people mistakenly believe that pineapple is pineapple when in actuality there are many different varieties of pineapple, each with their own textures and flavors. In contrast, the style of the pineapple has to do with the way that it is cut and packaged. Any pineapple type might be cut into various different pineapple styles. We'll explore both of these categories more closely now.
Different Types of Pineapple
There are many different pineapple types that are available. Some are easier to find in U.S. markets than others and some are only found in certain regions of the U.S. A smattering of the most common types of pineapple that you might get includes:
Smooth Cayenne Pineapple. This name sounds exotic and spicy but the truth is that this type of pineapple is one of the most common types of pineapple sold in the U.S. market and probably the one that you're quite familiar with. You can buy it fresh and it is also commonly used for packaged pineapple, too. Smooth cayenne pineapple tends to be light yellow in color with a green and yellow outer shell. It has a strong acid content as well as a high sugar content which contributes then tangy-but-sweet taste that you're so familiar with as a pineapple eater. Most of the pineapples that come from Hawaii or Honduras and are sold through major distributors like Dole and Del Monte are smooth cayenne pineapples. One Hawaiian variation of this type of pineapple is a type called the Hilo pineapple which is very similar but more cylindrical in shape.
Red Spanish Pineapple. If you have ever eaten a pineapple that was more white than yellow then there is a good chance that you were eating a Red Spanish pineapple. This type of pineapple ships well so it's doing well in the American market today although it typically comes from Puerto Rico. If you see a pineapple at the store that looks yellowish red on the outside, someone squarish in shape and has sharp "saw-toothed" leaves then it's likely a Red Spanish Pineapple. When you bite into it, you'll notice that this type of pineapple tends to feel more fibrous than your typical smooth cayenne pineapple will be.
Natal Queen Pineapple. Has anyone ever handed you a piece of pineapple that was so yellow that it was almost orange? It may have been a Natal Queen pineapple, one of the sweetest types of pineapple available in the U.S. market.
Sugar Loaf Pineapple. This type of pineapple was common in the United States about a decade ago but has been declining in availability ever since. Still, you might come across it and if you do it's worth a try because it's a low-acid pineapple that has a juicy, watery, light, sweet taste. This type of pineapple looks tall and narrow and has very smooth, bright green leaves.
Pernambuco. This type of pineapple doesn't ship well so you might not come across it very often either. However, it's sometimes available. The fruit is pale yellow and very sweet although not as sweet as the Natal Queen Pineapple.
Different Styles of Pineapple
When we talk about pineapple styles, we are talking about the different cuts that are available for pineapple. If you are purchasing a fresh pineapple and cutting it yourself at home, you won't need to know this information at the store. However, it's helpful to learn about it since it gives you a range of different slicing and dicing options for your own recipes. Common styles of pineapple include:
Pineapple slices. This is the most common way that people choose to cut their own fresh pineapples. If you are looking for packaged pineapple that is cut in the form of rings then you are looking for pineapple slices. People who make vegetarian burgers using pineapple usually use pineapple slices (rings).
Pineapple spears. The difference between pineapple slices and pineapple spears is that the slices have been cut widthwise from the pineapple whereas spears of pineapple are made by cutting the pineapple lengthwise.
Pineapple chunks. People who are seeking packaged pineapple that has essentially been diced are looking for pineapple chunks. People who buy frozen pineapple usually get pineapple chunks. If you are buying pineapple to skewer for the grill then you might want pineapple chunks (although pineapple spears would be another option).
Pineapple tidbits. Mostly a name used for marketing, pineapple tidbits are very similar to pineapple chunks. If there's a difference it tends to be that tidbits are smaller.
Crushed pineapple. This style of pineapple is made as the name suggests. What you get is tiny little pieces of pineapple. If you're buying pineapple to use as a topping for something then you might want to buy crushed pineapple.