Pineapples — those odd, bumpy, yellow fruits with tough, mottled skin and spikey leaves that jut out at a sharp angle. Named by early European settles in America for their resemblance to pine cones, pineapples take about 18 months to grow, and each plant produces only one fruit per year. Until Columbus encountered them in 1493, pineapples were completely unknown to Europeans. Unripe pineapples can actually be poisonous, and adding pineapple to gelatin will prevent it from setting.
In addition to the wondrous trivia and delicious flavor, pineapple complements the rich and savory flavors of meat very well. Beef, chicken, pork and even some kinds of fish can be transported from your plate to the hot sun and warm flavors of the tropics when prepared alongside pineapple.
As well as imparting great flavor, pineapple juice also helps to tenderize meat while it marinates. An enzyme in the fruit, called bromelain, softens the meat by dividing proteins like collagen (and also imparts a rich and tangy flavor). The same process is also what makes your tongue feel strange after eating too much pineapple.
So, the next time you want to marinate some steak, pork chops, or ribs, try using pineapple juice to add great texture as well as great flavor.