The Odd Science Behind Why Pineapples Picked At Night Aren't As Sweet

Pineapples are known to make people happy — and not just for their bright color and association with warm, sunny days. This popular fruit contains tryptophan, which can boost serotonin and actually make you happier. Its role in tropical drinks doesn't hurt, either.

Pineapples are tropical fruits with a sweet taste and distinct color and appearance. They are grown in tropical climates, such as South America, parts of Africa, and Hawaii. You can purchase them year-round in most grocery stores, but to enjoy pineapples at their peak, you'll want to buy one sometime between March and July. Once you bring that delicious pineapple home, it's a bit intimidating to look at, but peeling it is quite easy. First, you cut off its crown (the green leaves) and base, then slice the skin off with a sharp knife. From there, you can slice the pineapple how you would like.

If you've ever bitten into a semi-sweet pineapple, you might have assumed it wasn't ripe enough when picked. Surprisingly, it's possible that the fruit was actually picked at night. Here's the odd science behind why pineapples picked at night aren't as sweet.

Why you should not pick pineapples at night

Plants are complex living organisms. They survive through a process known as photosynthesis, which allows them to utilize sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to properly feed. The exact process gets a bit complicated, but at night, the process changes slightly from when the sun is out during the day. For pineapples, the nighttime process results in a greater concentration of malic acid.

According to the Journal of Experimental Botany, pineapple "has the unique ability to store carbon dioxide as malic acid within the plant, allowing it to fix carbon dioxide at night as malate acids, which are then released during the day." This malic acid has a bitter taste, which impacts the pineapple's overall sweetness, giving it less flavor than the same fruit picked during the day after that malic acid has been released. If you're looking for the best time to pick a pineapple, it's safe to say that picking it during the day, when it's low on malic acid, will give it the greatest sweetness.

Which foods pair well with pineapple?

Once you have picked that perfectly sweet pineapple, there is no shame in eating it on its own; simply slice it as previously mentioned, and dig in. However, if you're looking for how to utilize that pineapple in recipes, there are a few ways to pair its flavor and get the most out of a dish (no, we're not talking about pineapple on pizza).

Sweet and savory often create a perfect contrast, so if you're looking for a savory dish that could use a little pineapple, try adding small pineapple chunks to pork or fish tacos. You can also use pineapple to contrast well against certain spices like cinnamon or cayenne, both of which have a bite and should be used in small quantities. It also makes for a tasty ice cream or yogurt topping, and don't be afraid to pair it with any dish that involves jalapeños or chili peppers.