Hawaii used to be known for its pineapple plantations. These days they are now mostly gone – replaced by cheaper imports from other places. However, there are still fields to be found on Maui and it seems more fields have been planted recently. Drive upcountry to Hailemaile and if you look carefully, you will see some pineapple fields. Plants are close together, creating a dense plant field. Note, please do not trespass on these fields, even if just to take pictures.
From my experience growing pineapples from tops in my flower bed, it takes roughly 1 1/2 years to grow one fruit per plant – if you’re lucky.
My favorite growing stage is when they bloom. Each of those little notches on the hard skin represents where a tiny purple flower bloomed. Soooo beautiful.
Costco stopped selling Maui Gold pineapples this past year – replaced by fruit that is supposedly grown on Oahu (though I’m suspicious). However, there are a few local businesses that still grow and use Maui pineapples.
The Hailemaile Distilling Company produces Pau Vodka. Check them out in Hailemaile, go for a tour and see their tasting room. They also offer tours of their fields.
The Maui Winery also uses local fruit for their three pineapple wines ~ Splash, Maui Blanc and Hula. These are available at your Maui grocery stores or for sampling at the Maui Winery at the Ulupalakua Ranch.
If on Maui, look to buy a Maui Gold pineapple. Farmer’s markets should still have them available, even if Costco does not. They are unbelievably sweet and juicy.
How was your Halloween? I hope you had a fun time! This year we kept with our tradition of carving pineapples. Yes, we do have pumpkins here – even a pumpkin patch – but pineapples are cheaper. And better to eat!
Years ago when we still lived in Canada and were preparing for a Maui vacation, a friend gave us one of these pineapple cutters. At the time yesterday u could buy them in the produce section.
It is pretty slick for carving pineapples. Cut the top off the pineapple, line up the disk and begin twisting it into the fruit. The hard core ends up in the center tube as you hollow out the fruit. Depending on the size of the pineapple you can feel the ridge of the disk, or perhaps you will cut right through the pineapple skin (if it’s a smaller one especially). When you think you are near the bottom, you just lift the twirly pineapple out with the handle.
Set a candle in them and your house will smell like pineapple. Yum. For trick-or-treating I set these guys on the stairs leading up to our front door. Better to use battery operated candles for that, in case someone knocks them over.
What to do with all that pineapple? I tried a new recipe for crockpot pineapple chicken. I thought the family would like it, but our picky eaters disagreed. Ah well, can’t please everyone. Don’t feel sorry for them – they did feast on candy later on…
I’ve heard from a number of people that pineapples bought here on Maui are better than the ones bought ‘back home’. Why is that? I always thought it was just because they’re harvested ripe here, but didn’t realize that, as with other fruit, there are different varieties of pineapples. I guess this shouldn’t have been a surprise.
On Maui we are lucky to have the Maui Gold pineapple variety. If you haven’t tried it yet, do! It is less acidic and somewhat sweeter. It is grown right here on Maui by the Maui Gold Pineapple Company. No, they don’t hold the exclusive right to this type pineapple, but they grow a lot of it. The Hawaii Business magazine has an interesting article about Maui Gold Pineapple Company, and how it has come back from the brink, scaled back and revived itself.
Where can you find Maui Gold? The easiest place is the local grocery store – Safeway, Times, Foodland and Costco, they all carry Maui Gold pineapples. So do many farmer’s markets.
How do pineapples grow? A few years ago I experimented and planted a Maui Gold pineapple top. It grew to about 4 feet in height, 2 feet in diameter and looked like a giant pineapple top! At about the 12 month mark, the plant developed a pineapple bud in its center, which then grew into a full-fledged pineapple. Four months later we harvested our large Maui Gold pineapple – that’s right, 16 months to grow one pineapple! Ours had a crooked crown which I suppose it would have been considered ‘flawed’. The next year the plant grew two more baby pineapples (they were roughly a third the size of the original pineapple).
For blog entries and interesting pictures of our pineapple-growing progress click the ‘Cara’s pineapple’ tag on the right side of this blog.
How to choose the perfect pineapple? I look for fruit that is yellow and smells like ripe pineapple. How about you? What is your trick to finding the perfect pineapple?
Look what I have – another ripe pineapple! This is the second pineapple to have ripened on my original pineapple plant (one last year, now this one 14 months later). By comparison, it is TINY, the fruit itself measuring 3 inches tall. However, it smells delicious. And there is another slightly larger pineapple still ripening.
As for my other pineapple plants, none of them have even gotten a bud. This pineapple plant was the first Maui Gold pineapple I planted from Costco. The others were later purchases from Costco and while they grew, they have not gotten as large nor had a bud. I wonder if they are GMO with an automatic kill-gene in them as some plants are nowadays. Ah well, it’s been fun experimenting.
To read more about my experimental pineapple plantings – click the ‘Cara’s pineapple’ link under ‘labels’ on the right side of the blog.
the kids call this one crazy-haired. Look how tiny it is, only 3 inches tall.
In pineapple news, the baby pineapples are growing. They are now 3 1/2 and 4 inches tall respectively (including the crown). Here are a few baby pictures for you to enjoy!
Baby pineapples growing on the old pineapple plant that grew a beautiful huge pineapple in my flower bed last year. These pineapples are significantly smaller compared to last year’s pineapple – but there are two of them!
This is the 3 1/2 inch tall baby – look at the beautiful coloring of the leaves surrounding the pineapple.
This is the 4 inch tall pineapple, significantly less color on the surrounding leaves.
Looking down at the plant from above – we may get another pineapple bud out of the center?
Another pineapple top planted a 13 months ago has recently changed color (green to pink), but no sign of a bud.
Side-profile of the color-ful pineapple plant.
For more on my pineapple plants, click the ‘Cara’s Pineapple’ label on the right of the blog. Enjoy! I sure do!
You’ve likely seen these trees as you explore Maui…. but what kind of trees are they? And are those pineapples? Now, if you’re a faithful reader of my blog, you will know that pineapples don’t grow on trees… right?
Hala (also known as Pu Hala) trees are, unlike many of the other plants you see here, native to Hawaii and grow well below 2000 ft elevation. They are incredibly hardy and can tolerate salt water.
The scientific name is Pandanus tectorius, also known as the screw pine. They can grow up to 30 feet tall and have a span of 20-40 feet. The leaves are 2-6 feet long and have sharp edges.
Did you know – there are male and female hala trees. The females grow strange-looking fruit (technically edible, but I’m told not great-tasting). The males are quite rare and have beautiful fragrant flowers that can be used in stunning flower arrangements.
Hala trees root structure
Hala trees played a very important role in Hawaiian history – many parts of these trees were used for everything from food to medicine, home building to leis. Do take a moment to google ‘hala trees’ for some interesting reads (I liked this Native Plants Hawaii website). By the way, a hala lei can be very lucky or very unlucky… you may want to look into that before asking where to find one!