The pineapple is a delicious and nutritious tropical fruit enjoyed around the world. However, while the juicy flesh and rings can be safely consumed, the central fibrous core of the pineapple should always be removed and discarded before eating. There are several good reasons to avoid eating the core of a pineapple.
The core is too tough and stringy to chew
The central core of a pineapple is composed of tough, stringy fiber that is very difficult to bite and chew. The core fiber is designed to provide rigidity and structure to support the heavy fruit. But this makes the core almost impossible to bite through and thoroughly chew. Attempting to eat the intact core results in an unpleasant fibrous mass in the mouth. The core fiber cannot be adequately broken down by the teeth and digestive processes. So it is best to slice off and discard the core before eating any of the pineapple flesh.
It can cause mouth injuries
The dense pineapply core fiber can abrade and scrape the inside of the mouth when attempts are made to chew it. The rough texture of the intact core can literally shred and scratch the delicate tissues of the mouth. Ouch! This can lead to pain and discomfort during eating. And the damaged mouth tissues are then vulnerable to infection by bacteria and viruses. So it is wise to remove the mouth-injuring core before eating the softer, juicy pineapple rings.
It may cause digestive upset
The human digestive system has difficulty breaking down and processing the tough stringy core fiber of pineapples. This can lead to some digestive discomforts and issues. Attempting to swallow unchewed chunks of core fiber can potentially cause painful obstructions in the esophagus. The core fiber may also block or irritate the intestines. And the undigested fibers will commonly result in constipation. So avoiding consumption of the indigestible core is the best way to prevent these undesirable digestive problems.
It contains higher amounts of bromelain enzymes
The fibers in the core of the pineapple contain very high concentrations of bromelain enzymes. Bromelain is known to aid digestion when consumed in moderation. But ingestion of bromelain in very high amounts can cause irritation, stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. The flesh of the pineapple contains sufficient bromelain for health benefits. But the core should be removed to avoid the excess enzymes that may disrupt digestion and cause gastrointestinal side effects.
The core may harbor more contaminants
The hard, inedible core of the pineapple can trap and harbor more dirt, debris and contaminants during growth and harvesting. Bacteria, fungi, pesticides and other undesirable substances are more likely to become lodged in the tiny spaces within the tough core fiber. The juicy flesh immediately adjacent to the core will typically have lower contamination levels. So removing and discarding the bottom core results in a more hygienic pineapple eating experience.
What is the core of a pineapple?
The core of a pineapple refers to the dense, fibrous central section that runs lengthwise through the middle of the fruit. This core provides structural support and rigidity to the overall pineapple. The edible yellow-orange flesh of the pineapple radiates outward from the core in segmented rings. The tapered lower portion of the core where the leaves were attached is the roughest and woodiest section. The upper part of the core nearer the flesh is softer but still too hard and stringy to chew and swallow comfortably. The core is not considered edible or palatable.
Anatomy and composition of a pineapple core
– Located in the central axis of the pineapple fruit
– Composed of dense, stringy fibers
– Provides rigidity and support to the heavy pineapple
– Allows attachment and distribution of fleshy fruit tissues
– Low moisture content, high fiber content
– Fibers are strong, tough, and difficult to chew or breakdown
– Contains higher levels of bromelain enzymes than flesh
Appearance and texture
– Elongated cylinder approximately 3-5 inches long
– Pale yellow to light brown color
– Tough, stringy, rough, woody texture
– Harder and denser toward the tapered bottom
– Softer but still fibrous and chewy toward the top
Adverse effects of eating the pineapple core
Despite its inedibility, some people are tempted to try to eat the entire pineapple including the central core. However, this is not recommended because the intact core can produce several adverse effects. It is best to remove and discard the core before preparing and eating pineapple flesh.
Choking and blockage risks
Attempting to swallow large chunks of the hard pineapple core poses a real risk of choking. The rough fibrous mass can become stuck in the throat and block the airway, making it difficult or impossible to breathe. The core pieces can also present a dangerous intestinal blockage hazard. These obstructions require emergency medical treatment to clear. So it is critical to avoid putting the solid core pieces into the mouth in the first place.
Damage to teeth and gums
The dense, abrasive fibers of the pineapple core can also wreak havoc once inside the mouth. Chewing on the intact core can actually scratch, scrape, and shred the delicate tissues of the mouth. This can cause pain, injuries, inflammation, and bleeding of the gums. Dental enamel may also be damaged or chipped by biting on the very hard core fibers. These effects make consumption of the tough core ill-advised for oral health.
Digestive irritation and upset
Swallowing unchewed pieces of pineapple core fiber can irritate the tissues lining the esophagus and intestines. The sharp fibers may also get lodged in small intestinal folds and obstruct digestive processes. Enzymes and acids in the stomach have great difficulty breaking down the resistant core fibers. So the indigestible fibers typically cause bloating, abdominal cramps, and constipation when consumed. It is best to remove the core first to prevent these uncomfortable digestive disruptions.
Some individuals may have allergic responses after eating the higher bromelain enzyme levels contained in the pineapple core. The cluster of digestive enzymes can trigger immune system reactions in sensitive people when large amounts are consumed. Symptoms of pineapple core allergies can include rashes, hives, itching, tingling lips and mouth, swelling, breathing difficulties, and other signs of allergic reaction. Those with known bromelain allergies should be especially careful to cut away all of the core.
Steps for removing the pineapple core
To safely obtain the edible pineapple flesh and eliminate the hard central core follow these simple preparation steps:
1. Slice off the top and bottom
– Use a large sharp knife to first slice off the leafy green top of the pineapple.
– Then place the fruit upright and slice off the bottom 1-2 inches above where the core tapers to a point.
2. Stand pineapple upright and slice off outer skin
– Cut away the tough outer skin by carving vertical strips from top to bottom all around the fruit.
– Try to remove all of the brown bumpy peel while leaving as much flesh as possible.
3. Cut pineapple in half lengthwise
– Now lay the peeled pineapple on its side and cut it lengthwise in half from top to bottom.
– Use a long slicing motion to bisect the fruit right down the middle.
4. Remove the hard central core
– Using the knife, cut and scoop the fibrous yellow core out from each pineapple half.
– Try to remove all of the core material while wasting minimal amounts of flesh.
5. Slice, dice, or cut pineapple into chunks
– With the inedible core now gone, the pineapple halves can be sliced crosswise into circular rings.
– Rings can be left whole or cut into smaller cubes or pieces to eat.
– Enjoy the delicious properly prepared pineapple flesh without the adverse core.
Healthier and tastier alternatives to eating the core
Rather than forcing down the unenjoyable pineapple core, there are much better options for higher fiber intake and less fruit waste. Some healthy alternatives include:
Blend core into smoothies
The core can be blended along with the flesh into fresh pineapple smoothies. This renders the fiber far more palatable and digestible. The core enzymes also provide health benefits when diluted in a blended smoothie.
Juice or puree the core into sauces
Processing the core into a juice or pureed sauce again allows absorption of nutrients without needing to chew the fibrous mass. The core juice can provide a tangy flavor to salad dressings, marinades, salsas, chutneys, and other sauces.
Dehydrate or candy the core
Drying or candying the core concentrates the beneficial enzymes and transforms the fibrous texture into a chewy treat. This makes the nutritious core accessible and eliminates any choking risk.
Use core in stocks, teas, and tinctures
Simmer the core to extract enzymes, vitamins, and minerals into soups, stocks, herbal teas, and health tinctures. Filter out and discard the remaining fibrous pulp after preparation.
Compost the core
Place unused cores into a compost pile. The nutrient dense core will break down into an excellent fertilizer for vegetable gardens, flower beds, and house plants.
The dense inedible core running through the center of a pineapple should always be removed and discarded prior to eating the juicy flesh. Attempting to chew and swallow the intact stringy core can pose choking hazards, damage the mouth, cause digestive problems, and trigger allergic reactions. But the healthy enzymes and nutrients of the core can still be utilized through processing methods like blending, juicing, dehydrating, and composting. Safely preparing pineapple by cutting away the tough core allows full enjoyment of this nutritious tropical fruit.