We here at FruitStand have a saying: Never judge a fruit by its cover. But no fruit may more perfectly fit that description than the pineapple.
Just imagine how much sadder the world would be if no one ever bothered to look past their prickly exteriors. (We don’t care how many Fibonacci-decked spikes you wear, pineapples, we know you’re sweeties inside!)
Pineapples are undoubtedly stars of the fruit world, globally popular and widely recognizable whether they come juiced, canned, or cut up fresh.
Still, like any sly celebrity, pineapple can fly under the radar, too, with some special strains of the tropical fruit so elusive, they hardly ever leave their homes.
So just how many types of pineapples are there?
Some growers put the number of pineapple varieties above 37 – and counting.
In fact, there are so many pineapple cultivars currently in production, the fruit as a whole can be broken down into four subcategories:
The type of pineapple you’re most likely to encounter in the non-wild – whether in the produce section or inside a juicebox – this mostly Hawaiian-grown strain has a high sugar and acid content that makes it particularly suitable for canning and shipping.
Despite their spicy name, smooth cayennes are noted for the natural sweetness of their yellow interior – of which they have plenty, with this type of pineapple typically weighing in anywhere from four to ten pounds.
A few of the most popular type of smooth cayennes include:
Hilo—It may be named after a Big Island town, but this type of pineapple is one of the smallest of the smooth cayenne variety. Still, growers love it for its larger number of pups – the plantlets that pop up between the leaves of mature pineapples, which can be replanted and are known to reproduce fruit more quickly than a regular pineapple seed.
St. Michael—Once again, names can be deceiving, with this variety originating from the Azores region of Portugal, rather than the saintly-named Caribbean island. St. Michael pineapples are revered for their acid-to-sugar ratios, which makes them one of the sweetest—and most unique-tasting—types of pineapples.
Giant Kew—Finally, a name we can work with. This heavyweight of the pineapple world, which is most popular in India, is aptly called after its giant size, which could range up to 22 pounds per fruit!
Much smaller than their Smooth Cayenne counterparts, Red Spanish pineapples usually peak around four pounds, with the pineapple buds growing a pinkish-red on the plant.
On the inside, their fruit is light yellow, aromatic, and highly fibrous. Their leaves are particularly sturdy too, with cultivars grown specifically in the Philippines to be used in the textile industry there.
Some standouts among the family include:
Cabezona—Grown mostly in Mexico, this varietal is so big and strong, a machete is typically brought in to separate the fruit from the plant. Its outside is yellowy-orange, while its inside is more bittersweet than many other cultivars.
Valera—An old pineapple variety originally grown in Puerto Rico, this cultivar is particularly colorful, sporting purple-tipped green leaves, a yellow-orange skin and an inside full of white flesh.
Monte Oscuro—Perhaps the most intimidating pineapple varietal to date, the Monte Oscuro sports broad, saw-toothed and spiny leaves, fruit that’s big and barrel-chested, and a deep-set yellow flesh. We guess every rose – or pineapple – has its thorns.
Singapore Red—Their general resistance to disease and pests make these pineapples particularly popular for canning. Their red-striped leaves and reddish-golden flesh make these pineapples particularly pretty for looking.
“Though she be but little, she is fierce!”
Shakespeare didn’t exactly have a pineapple in mind when he penned that line – but he may as well have. The pineapple queens are by far the smallest of the bunch, with some agriculturists referring to them as “dwarf” varieties.
But for their tiny size, they pack a mighty punch, thanks to a highly juicy yellow flesh that’s particularly tasty. Still, you’re unlikely to see a Queen stray too far from her kingdom, with these varieties tasting far better fresh than canned.
Some of the most popular varieties of Queen Pineapples include:
Natal Queen—Mostly grown in Australia, South Africa and Malaysia, Natal Queen is considered one of the sweetest types of pineapple there is—though they usually top out at just 1 ½ pounds per fruit.
MacGregor—Firmly-fleshed, this Queen Pineapple varietal is more robust than its siblings, spreading wider, father and faster than nearly all the rest. It’s most likely to be spotted in Australia or South Africa.
Ripley—Named for a sci-fi queen (if ever there was one), this cultivar is perhaps equally as alien: Its outside is an unusual pale-copper color, with pale yellow, albeit very sweet, flesh, and crimson leaves. However, the plant only sprouts sporadically, making its fruiting schedule a bit unpredictable.
Arguably bearer of the most delicious pineapple fruits, this class of pineapple is as rare to try as it is tasty to eat, thanks to its delicate, tender and juicy flesh. (Precious cargo is that much harder to ship, after all.)
Still, those lucky enough to try it are unlikely to forget the experience, including anyone who’s had the pleasure of eating:
White Kauai—What pineapple dreams are made of, this Hawaii-born varietal truly has it all. Its fruit is white and soft and its acidity levels are nearly nonexistent, making this pineapple particularly delicious – so it’s a good thing its core is also edible!
Sugarloaf—Similar to the White Kauai, this varietal also sports a soft, sweet inside of tender white flesh. It’s far less fibrous than most of its pineapple cousins, while its core is less woody—and also good to eat.
Antigua Black—Regularly billed as the world’s rarest pineapple, this exotic varietal is grown only in Antigua, where it’s known as the island’s signature fruit. A beautiful cultivar, it’s greenish-white on the outside, with red striped leaves and a yellow flesh with low acid, high sugar, and loads of tastiness.
Montufar—One of the more colorful varieties on the block, this Abacaxi cultivar is mostly grown in Guatemala. Its greenish outside gives way to a bright yellow middle that’s filled with sweet and juicy flesh.
So go ahead and take a pineapple at face value – if you dare. But do so at the risk of missing out on a truly sweet opportunity to get to know them on the inside.