Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pineapple Isn't Citrus (Not that there's anything wrong with that)

A pomelo and lemons.

Since when is pineapple considered citrus? At least since yesterday for The Wall Street Journal, which featured a story and "recipes that unleash the sweet power of citrus," including instructions for fritters in which pineapple is the only fruit.

The reporter wrote, "It's fitting that chefs looking to play around with produce turn their attention to fragrant citrus—tangerines, pineapples, grapefruits, Meyer lemons and especially sweet oranges—when the fruits are in their prime." Pineapples?

I turned to my husband watching TV on the couch next to me and said, "This has to be wrong. Pineapple isn't citrus." Half listening, he asked, "It isn't?" His response surprised me. I had thought the differences were obvious. Oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits grow on trees, are mostly full of little sacks of juice (vesicles) and have fragrant, dimpled skin that's pleasant to touch. Pineapples come from a herbaceous plant, have a hard, rough skin and are crowned with a mass of spiky leaves. I opened my copy of "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen," by Harold McGee, and confirmed that pineapples are indeed unrelated to citrus fruit.
I also did some online checking and came across questions from multiple people asking whether pineapples are citrus fruit. Apparently, people get them confused.

Yes, pineapples are fruit, as are oranges, lemons, grapefruit, etc. They pleasingly blend tartness with sweetness. They thrive in warm climates. But citrus plants are members of the family Rutaceae, and pineapples are members of the Bromeliaceae family, which includes Spanish moss and several common houseplants.

So there. That's straightened out, and we can move on.

A nice way to use pineapple is in a banana pineapple cake from Bon App├ętit. I skip the nuts and the frosting and add some extra drained pineapple to the batter. For me the recipe makes a dozen muffins and one 9-inch round cake. The cake is good served with a little whipped cream and sliced fresh bananas or strawberries. The muffins are good plain, served with a cup of coffee or tea.

For savory dishes, try pineapple in ham and pineapple fried rice or in sweet and sour pork chops.

A citrus recipe I like is for Tartelette's mini tarts filled with calamansi mousse and accented with candied kumquats. Kumquats regularly show up in a couple supermarkets in my area, and I found calamansi juice in the freezer section of my local Asian grocery store. If calamansi were unavailable, I'd experiment with Meyer lemons or Key limes.


canned salmon said...

Thanks for clearing that up. I too find it puzzling that many consider pineapple a citrus.

On another note, good news and a big "Yay!" Meyer lemons are back in season and available online. I just Googled 'purchase meyer lemons' and there they were.

Happy holidays to you,

Cyn said...

Happy holidays to you too. I must be lucky, because I just noticed a big pile of Meyer lemons at one of the supermarkets here. I'll have to take advantage of the opportunity to use them in something.

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