Ingredient Intelligence

How to Tell if a Pineapple Is Ripe Before You Buy It

published Apr 26, 2024
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overhead shot of a full pineapple on a cutting board.
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik; Food Styling: Olushola Wadley

Figuring out whether produce is ripe can be tricky business — especially when the fruit in question is a pineapple. Pineapples have thick, rough skin that can make it difficult to tell when one is perfectly ripe. Who wants to cut into a pineapple only to discover it’s not quite ready to eat? 

Unfortunately, pineapples aren’t the kind of fruit that will continue to ripen once picked, so choosing one at its peak is key. An underripe pineapple has a tart flavor and the flesh can be tough and woody. An overripe pineapple, on the other hand, can taste sour and almost fermented. To help you pick out a pineapple that’s perfectly ripe and ready to use right away in your summer cocktail or a fresh salsa, we’ve got some tips worth checking out.

Check for Firmness

Like most fruits, pineapples soften as they become ripe. Unlike other fruits, their thick skin can make that softness hard to discern. So give those pineapples a good squeeze. If the fruit feels just a little bit soft, you’re good to go. This can be a bit of a Goldilocks method (too much give and it’s likely overripe; no give at all and it’s probably underripe), but somewhere in the middle is just right.

Give it a Sniff

Because of its thick skin, the best spot to smell on a pineapple is the bottom. It should smell sweet and fruity, not sour or fermented (a sign it’s overripe). If you can’t smell anything at all, it may be a sign the pineapple you’re holding is underripe; try another one.

Note the Color

A pineapple at the peak of ripeness will have a golden yellow color. Underripe ones will look more green or even very pale yellow, while overripe ones will start to turn darker shades of yellow (and can even get into orange territory).

Give the Leaves a Tug

The leaves (or fronds) on the top of a pineapple are another good indicator of ripeness. Gently pull at a leaf near the center of the pineapple. If it comes away with just a little effort, the fruit is ripe; if it’s hanging on, it’s a sign the fruit is underripe. Look for pineapples with full, green leaves — if they look dry or brown, the fruit may be overripe.