Monday, August 22, 2016

Pineapple Preserves and a Bit About Pineapple History

Pineapples by Frederick Stone Batcheller, c. 1880
Source: Wikimedia Commons

To Preserve Pine Apples
Get sound, ripe pine apples, pare & slice them, weigh about 2 lbs. & put them in a deep dish with equal weight of pounded sugar strewed over, let them remain ‘till the sirrup is extracted (if the weather admits they may remain all night) Then add a little water & boil them in a bell-metal kettle, about half an hour, or until they look trans-parent & are tender. the sirrup may be boiled 5 minutes longer after the fruit is taken out –Two pounds is sufficient to boil at one time, as the sirrup becomes dark by remaining long over the Fire.

Recipe Provenance
This recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

About Pineapples
Pineapples are from the Ananas colossus family and are a fruit that is formed by over one hundred separate flowers that germinate into separate fruits that grow on a central plant spike. As they grow, the juice and pulp from these multiple fruits swell and they become one fruit.

Pineapples are tropical fruits that grow in hot climates worldwide nowadays. However, they are native to Brazil. Cultivation spread from there to the West Indies before contact with Europeans. Columbus discovered pineapples in 1493 in Guadeloupe and instantly fell in love with them. Columbus brought a load of pineapples to Spain and just one survived which was presented to King Ferdinand. However, it was not the Spanish but the Portuguese who saw to it that pineapples were cultivated widely in the tropic regions.

In the 1680s, the Dutch developed a way to grow pineapples in hot houses with hot beds, and it was a Dutch gardener who grew the first pineapple in England in about 1714. This was grown by gardener Henry Telende for Sir Matthew Decker in Richmond, Surrey. Pineapple cultivation in hot houses continued in England until the late Victorian period when pineapples began to be cultivated in the subtropical Azores (Portuguese Islands in the North Atlantic Ocean). Pineapples could be shipped with relative speed from the Azores to mainland Europe without risk of the fruit spoiling therefore the need to grow pineapples in England in hot houses was no longer necessary.

Pineapples began to be imported into North America in the 17th century. Interestingly, the pineapple became known in the North American colonies as a symbol of hospitality as can be seen in Colonial Williamsburg where the pineapple symbol is everywhere. Nineteenth century American recipes for pineapples includes ones for syrups, preserves, candied chips/slices, sherbet, and fritters.

Pineapples began to be canned in Florida and the Caribbean in 1882 but real success with it occurred in 1892 in Hawaii. In 1901, Jim Dole founded the Hawaiian Pineapple Company and the industry grew rapidly in size. It is no surprise then that the number of recipes for pineapple soared in the 20th century.

Pineapples in 19th Century Baltimore
Here is an advertisement from the American and Commercial Daily Advertiser (Baltimore) from 7 July 1824 by A. Horton who was selling pineapples at his new establishment at 87 Market Street (now Baltimore Street, I believe):


Here is a Baltimore recipe for Pineapple Syrup by Elizabeth Ellicott Lea in Domestic Cookery, 1869:

Pineapple Preserves: Modern Recipe Adaptation

Step 1:
  • 1 Pineapple
  • Granulated Sugar
1.  Peel, core, and dice the pineapple into small chunks. I like to have a variety of sizes so that some of the pineapples melts and some stays chunky in the preserves.
2.  Weight the pineapple chunks. I got 21 ounces of pineapples.
3.  Measure an equivalent weight of sugar to that of the pineapple.
4.  Spread the pineapple into a deep dish and cover with the sugar. Mix together thoroughly. It should look like this:

5.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave out for 6 hours, or until the juices render out of the pineapple and the sugar becomes syrupy. It should look like this:

Step 2:
1.  Place the pineapples and all of their syrup in a medium size saucepan. 
2.  Place over medium-high heat and bring to about 220ยบ F. Remove from the heat and cool. 
3.  Mix into ice cream, serve over cake, cheesecake, or in a trifle.

  • Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food (Oxford University Press, 2014)
  • Smith, Andrew. The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, Second Edition (Oxford University Press, 2013)

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