Pineapples grow in Brazil, Paraguay, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Thailand, the Philippines and Africa. They are so-called because of their resemblance to pine cones.
Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain, which breaks down protein and is used to tenderise meat. These enzymes stop gelatine setting unless the pineapple juice has been boiled or the fresh pineapple has been cooked. Canned pineapple can also be used with gelatine.
Flavours and ingredients that go well with pineapple are, among others, coconut, honey, ginger, mango and bananas. It can be used in savoury pies and pasties with bacon or ham. Also, put pineapple in almond frangipane tarts instead of the more usual apple or pear. Or why not chop it finely and add to grated carrot for cakes or muffins?
You can also mix some with coconut and dried mango for a tropical fruit cake and, instead of a traditional upside down cake, make a tarte tatin with pineapple. For a twist on the upside down cake, make it using a sticky gingerbread recipe.
In season: They are available all year but are particularly good at these times:
Hawaii: peak season April-end May
Caribbean: December-end February and August-end September
Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the world-famous Leiths School of Food and Wine in London