My Italian Great-Aunt’s Pineapple Trick Makes It Taste Extra Sweet

published Aug 3, 2023
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sliced pineapple on a cutting board
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Great-Aunt Kitty was as fabulous as they come. Kitty Kat, as those nearest and dearest would come to call her, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, in the mid-1920s. The second of four children and eldest girl, she was a big sister to my grandma Mary (who I am named after), and, later on, a second mother to my mother. 

She designed and sewed my mom’s engagement dress and, after the wedding, taught her how to cook. My mom still cleans chicken with scissors because of her. She (and my grandma!) loved to gamble and “gift” herself dishware from the restaurant in the casino. Anytime those two got together, high jinks — picture two old ladies racing their Drive scooters in a hotel hallway — happened.

Aunt Kitty was the matriarch and more outgoing of the siblings. She would talk to everyone about anything, which is how she picked up this little-known tip about ripening pineapple from a chef. My Aunt Theresa doesn’t remember exactly where she picked it up, but thinks it was at my cousin Mary Jo’s sweet 16 — more than three decades ago. Since then, Aunt Kitty’s Pineapple Trick (as it is known in this family) has been passed down from generation to generation, like the priceless heirloom that it is. After the tiniest bit of convincing, I’ve been given permission to share it with all of you.

How to Sweeten Pineapple with Aunt Kitty’s Pineapple Trick

My second favorite thing about this trick is how foolproof it is. (First is the name, obviously.) It’s incredibly simple, although it does require some planning and the tiniest bit of patience. 

Start by heating the oven to 225°F. Place the pineapple — leaves and all — directly on the rack in the middle of the oven, and cook it for 20 minutes.

Once the timer goes off, remove the pineapple and set it aside for it to cool completely before slicing. I typically let it sit overnight, but you can start slicing through the core after about three hours. (This is where the patience bit comes in.)

The low and slow-ish heat ensures a delightfully sweet pineapple every time. It also subdues, what my Aunt Theresa calls, “the raspy effect” it has on your tongue (depending on how much you eat). 

Over the many years, my family and I have used Aunt Kitty’s Pineapple Trick on many shades of pineapple — yes, even green ones during winter. We’re no longer surprised by the magic of this trick, but it doesn’t make it any less special each time we perform it.