Do you love pineapples so much that you decided to grow them in your garden?
The thing about growing pineapples is that many don’t realize how easy the whole process is. As such, only those with an adventurous spirit dare try.
So, more than pineapple growing tips, you will want to learn when to harvest them, as it can take a long while.
When to harvest pineapple? The plant takes its sweet time to grow, often taking two years before producing flowers. From then, you might need to wait 180 more days for the fruit to be ready for harvest. A ripe pineapple will have its distinct golden-yellow skin, yellow-orange flesh, and sweet pineapple aroma.
How Do You Know When Your Pineapple Is Ready to Harvest?
Pineapple belongs to the Bromeliaceae family and is originally from the Americas, most likely the Brazilian rainforests.
As such, it is no surprise that this evergreen, slow-growing perennial enjoys steadily warm temperatures all year.
It also loves good watering, so make sure you don’t allow the soil to dry out for too long.
Given these conditions, you can expect to harvest pineapple fruits in about 180 to 275 days after the plant’s bloom.
It is important that you leave the fruits on the plant until they are ripe and ready, as they won’t continue to ripen much off the plant.
Here’s what to look out for to know for sure your pineapple fruits are ready for picking:
One way to know a pineapple fruit is ripe is when you notice a change in the skin’s color from green-gray to yellow-orange or golden-yellow.
The color change will start near the base and then move up the fruit. You will also notice the fruitlet starting to flatten and the peel changing colors.
When about two-thirds of the fruit becomes yellow, you will know pineapple harvest time is nearing.
Aside from color, you will also want to pay attention to the fruit’s size. A mature pineapple will weigh roughly five to 10 pounds or 2.5 to 4.5 kilos.
Like most fruits, ripe pineapple will feel heavier for its size.
Sweet and Tangy Smell
Another reliable indicator of ripeness is the fruit’s smell, which should be a strong tangy and sweet aroma. The base of the fruit will have the strongest pineapple smell.
Once it is strong enough that you can smell it even from a distance, you will know it is ready for picking.
Still not sure if your pineapple is ripe enough? Try gently tapping the side of the fruit and listening to the sound it makes.
A hollow sound means it needs more time to ripen. What you want to hear instead is a dull, solid sound when you tap on its firm shell.
What Happens If You Don’t Harvest Pineapple?
With proper care, pineapple plants are expected to last for seven years, producing one pineapple fruit each year starting from the second or third year.
Since pineapple plants require a long growing season, it’s easy to feel impatient waiting for the fruits to ripen.
If, for some reason, you were unable to harvest the fruit, what happens then?
Pineapples will continue to ripen on the plant and will become overripe if not picked.
They will turn brown and moldy, and the shell will develop soft spots. Worse, its sugars will start to ferment, making the fruit smell vinegary.
If this happens, you will have spent years growing them and get nothing in return.
How To Harvest Pineapple
As mentioned, a single pineapple plant will produce just one fruit at a time. In that case, are you excited to enjoy the fruit of your labor?
If you’re absolutely sure your pineapples are ready, here are the steps to take to ensure you harvest them properly:
Step 1: Check for ripeness.
Look for signs that your pineapple fruits are ripe enough for picking between five to six months after the plant’s bloom.
This is where you will need to practice patience, as pineapples will be the sweetest and tastiest if allowed to ripen on the plant.
You may leave them at room temp to try and ripen them off the plant, but it won’t do much. This reason is why you must be extra meticulous when checking your pineapples for ripeness.
Step 2: Prepare your gardening tools.
While harvesting pineapple is easy, it would be best to prepare your tools beforehand to ensure your safety.
Pineapple leaves and their skin are both pretty sharp, so wearing your trusted gardening gloves is a must to protect your palms.
You will also want to prepare your gardening shears, making sure they are sharp and sanitized before use.
Step 3: Secure the fruit with your hand.
Hold the shears or knife with your dominant hand. With your non-dominant hand, secure the top of the pineapple to keep it steady.
You can do this by grabbing onto the leaves or the fruit itself, whichever you think is more comfortable for you.
Step 4: Cut using a pair of gardening shears or knives.
For a clean and easy cut, use a pair of gardening shears or a sharp knife to cut the stem just below the fruit, leaving about an inch or two behind for it to regrow.
When doing this, take extra care not to cut or snip the other leaves so that you don’t stress the plant and keep it safe from diseases.
As you cut the stem, the pineapple will easily come off the plant. Catch it before it hits the ground to prevent bruising.
Step 5: Harvest the offspring.
After the pineapple plant produces a single fruit, it will “die off.” Before the mother plant dies, it will produce a few offspring called suckers or pups.
You can pick all the pups at once or leave one pup to grow into a ratoon crop. However, keep in mind that the ratoon crop won’t produce a pineapple fruit as big as the first one.
That’s because it will be competing with the mother plant for water, light, food, and space.
If you keep harvesting the pups, the mother plant will continue producing new growth, which you can then plant.
Should You Wash Pineapple After Harvesting?
After harvesting, it is important that you give your pineapple fruit a good and thorough rinse under running water.
Make sure you check every nook and cranny for dirt or bugs that could be hiding on the rind. Then, remove excess water by shaking the fruit and allowing it to air dry on top of a clean towel.
As you wait for the fruits to dry, now is the best time to think of what to do with your harvest.
If you think you won’t be able to finish it all in one sitting, your best bet is to refrigerate it to extend its shelf life.
Leaving it on the kitchen counter will hasten the decaying process, and it will only last roughly one to three days. In the fridge, it can reach up to three to five days.
That said, make sure you only refrigerate ripe pineapples.
As a tropical fruit, the fridge may sometimes be too cold for pineapple. So, figure out which part of your fridge is the warmest and put the pineapple there.
Can You Eat Pineapple Immediately After Harvesting?
What we like about freshly harvested pineapples is that you can eat them immediately after picking them.
Simply rinse off dirt and bugs under running water and start peeling the hard skin off.
If you did harvest them before they were fully ripe, you could try ripening them off by placing them on your kitchen counter at room temperature.
That said, expect that they won’t be as sweet or as juicy as pineapples ripened off on the plant.
For leftover pineapple slices, store them in an airtight container before putting them in the fridge. They will last a few days this way.
For even longer storage, sprinkle a bit of orange juice all over the pineapple slices.
You will know your pineapples have gone bad when they turn brown, mushy, or grow mold. Even if just one of the slices becomes moldy, make sure you throw everything away.
You can also store pineapple slices in the freezer for up to 12 months, but don’t expect the quality to be the same.
To do this, slice the fruit into slices and remove the core and eyes. Then, stack the slices in airtight containers or resealable freezer bags.
For hundreds of years, the pineapple plant has been cultivated as a perennial plant across many countries worldwide.
Known scientifically as Ananas comosus, this tropical fruit pairs well with meats, veggies, fish, and even drinks. Many also enjoy it as is or add it to baked desserts.
For these reasons, it’s not surprising why you might want to grow your own pineapple plants. Some even grow them in pots indoors!
The key to pineapple growing is having enough patience to wait it out. This slow-growing plant takes its sweet time before flowering and eventually producing fruit.
That said, you will know it’s all worth it when you bite into its juicy, refreshing, and sweet fruit.