It may not be a pressing matter for most people, but here in the test kitchen we wanted to know if all supermarket pineapples are created equal. After all, we've fallen victim to the sweet smell of these tropical beauties only to find our palates puckering from the sour fruit.
A survey of local supermarkets produced pineapple of two origins: Hawaii and Costa Rica (easily identified by their attached tags). The chosen pineapples (four from each growing region) were similar in ripeness. All yielded slightly when touched, were golden in color (green pineapples are underripe), and carried that familiar heady pineapple aroma. We tasted the fruit both straight up and in a smoothie.
The fruit from Hawaii was astoundingly astringent. Tasters could only un-pucker their mouths long enough to exclaim "bitter" and "sour." Smoothies made with this fruit were rather flavorless. The Costa Rican pineapple (sometimes labeled "extra-sweet" or "gold") triumphed in the tasting. Both straight up and in a smoothie, this fruit was packed with an ultrasweet, honeylike flavor that one taster called "pumped-up pineapple." There are no doubt some bad Costa Rican pineapples for sale as well as some better Hawaiian fruit, but in our experience, it pays to check a pineapple's origins.