What you should know about pineapples


Scientifically known as Ananas comosus, pineapples are tropical plants with sticky, sweet, juicy fruit (although sometimes it can be tangy and sour).  They are powerfully loaded with several vitamins and minerals, as well as exceptional juiciness.  Pineapples are readily available all year round in local markets.

pineapple plants

Pineapple plants are commonly grown in the Philippines, Thailand, China, Brazil, and Mexico.  You can also find it in Hawaii, the only state in the U.S. where these plants are still grown.

Health benefits

Some of the important health benefits you can get from pineapples are bromelain, vitamins, and minerals.

Bromelain. One of the most important enzymes found in pineapple is bromelain, a compound of several substances that can be drawn from the core fruit and stem. Bromelain is known to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent that can reduce swelling as well as facilitate in the treatment of various ailments, such as:

  • acute sinusitis
  • sore throat
  • bowel disorders
  • acute constipation
  • gastric irritability
  • diphtheria
  • jaundice
  • arthritis
  • gout
  • venereal disease
  • suppressing coughs and loosen mucus
  • diuretic
  • powerful aid in removing intestinal worms

pineapple saladBromelain also aids in the digestion of protein.  Meaning, if you consume pineapple with other food, you can expect that bromelain is going to digest the other food.

And, have you tried using pineapple in cooking meat? Well, aside from enhancing the flavour of your dish, the bromelain content in pineapple juice is an effective natural meat tenderizer.

Vitamins and minerals.  Fresh pineapple fruits are a very rich source of vitamins and minerals, like:

  • Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K
  • pantothenic acid
  • folate
  • biotin
  • choline
  • calcium
  • dietary fiber
  • potassium
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • manganese to help fortify and maintain healthy bones
  • copper

In addition, pineapples are effective laxative, and natural contraceptive.  Its fruit, juice, and peel have been used to treat corns, tumours, and warts. While, its leaf juice are said to have effective purgative, emmenagogue, and vermifuge properties.

Check out the In-Depth Nutrient Profile for more information on the nutritional value of pineapples.

Please take note, however,  that pineapples are not a commonly allergenic food, and not known to have measurable content of oxalates or purines. Some studies even include pineapple in the list of Allergy Avoidance Diets, partly due to its bromelain content and the abovementioned concerns.

Just a bit of trivia: Did you know that out of pineapples leaves, you can make an elegant textile?

Tips on how to select, store, and cut pineapples

Know that pineapples stop ripening as soon as they are harvested. So, when buying pineapples, take these simple tips:

  • If you prefer large pineapples, choose the heavier ones because they have the greater proportion of edible flesh. Although, this does not mean they are also greater in quality.
  • Make sure that they are free of bruises, soft spots, and darkened “eyes”. These characteristics indicate that the fruits are past its prime.
  • Smell the stem end of the pineapple and choose that which has a fragrant sweet smell.  Don’t get the one that has a musty, sour or fermented smell.
  • You may leave the pineapple at room temperature for one or two days before serving. This helps the fruit become softer and juicier.  But if you are not going to consume the pineapple within those days, you should wrap it in a plastic bag and keep it in the refrigerator to extend its freshness up to five days.
  • Pineapples that have been cut up must be stored  in the refrigerator in an airtight container to keep it fresher and retain its juiciness and taste.  Don’t freeze the fruit because it can affect its flavour.

Watch the video below for more tips on how to select a ripe pineapple and cut them into pieces.

Piña fabric: transforming pineapple leaves into eco-wear


Piña fabric finally made a niche in the fashion industry as a world-class material for high-end products, thanks to the local designers’ efforts.

Piña fabric has finally found its place in the fashion industry, thanks to the efforts local designers. The high-end clothing line now sees an increasing popularity among many fashionistas across the globe.

Barong Tagalog
Barong Tagalog

The lustrous Philippine-made piña fabric is made from the leaves of Red Spanish pineapple. It was originally used to make Barong Tagalog, a Filipino men’s formal attire. But as fashion evolves, women have started wearing piña clothes in many formal occasions. 

Properties of piña fabric

Piña fabric stands out above all fabrics because of its regal and timeless properties, particularly:

  • it is fine and translucent
  • it has a similar appearance to linen
  • it’s naturally glossy with high lustre
  • the cloth is softer than hemp
  • it has more texture than silk
  • it’s lightweight
  • it’s easy to care and washable
  • no dry cleaning required
  • it blends well with other fibers

History of the fabric

Piña weaving in the Philippines is an age-old tradition. It originated from Kalibo, Aklan in the western Visayas region.

When aristocrats of the pre-Hispanic period started wearing it, piña clothing almost instantly became the queen of Philippine fabrics.

The material also caught the attention of Spaniards. When they first arrived in the Philippines in 1500s, they were immediately attracted to the oriental subtlety of this indigenous garment.

By the 19th century, piña became an in-demand fabric worldwide. Until the cotton-made clothing was introduced!

Around mid-1980s, piña weaving dwindled, and eventually ceased. It was not able to compete in terms of prices with the cheaper cotton. Plus, the lack of new weavers made it difficult for them to cope with demand. The original weavers have retired due to old age.

Revival of the dying industry

Fortunately, some entrepreneurs stepped in to save the dying piña weaving industry. They started promoting piña Barong among wealthy families and personalities in the Philippines.

Celebrity Carrie Underwood wearing a pina dress.
Celebrity Carrie Underwood wearing a pina dress.

Local fashion designers also saw a great potential in the indigenous material. So, they introduced piña to the international market. They packaged it as an elegant high-end fashion.

Aside from Barong Tagalog and Filipiniana (lady’s formal wear), weavers have also expanded their line of products, to include

  • table linens
  • handkerchiefs
  • bags
  • mats
  • fans
  • paper
  • novelty items

And to showcase their creativity, weavers offer ‘calado’, a manually-embroidered fabric with traditional decorations.

Expensive textile

A 100% pure piña cloth or Barong Tagalog can be very expensive. Owning one could already be considered a status symbol.

To dispel the notion that piña clothing is only for the rich, weavers made a way to bring down its cost. But without compromising quality!  They do this by interweaving piña with other fine fabrics.

  • piña and silk combination is called piña seda
  • a piña and jusi mix makes a stronger piña-jusi fabric (jusi is a fiber made from abaca)

Why piña fabric is expensive

Piña weaving is considered heirloom more valuable than precious gold and silver. Production of the fabric is very tedious and time-consuming. It takes a whole day to make just one-fourth of a meter of cloth. It also requires tons of patience to produce an ensemble.

Despite modern machines, most weavers still prefer to use the traditional hand looming method. Perhaps, there’s some sense of sentimental value attached to it.

How much does pina cost?

Due to its complex production process, piña cloth is considerably expensive at $25 to $35 per yard, or even more. A piña-jusi Barong Tagalog costs between $80 and $90. While, a Filipiniana dress can cost from $150. 

Maintaining a piña fabric

Here are a few tips to make your piña fresh through the years.

  • When washing, soak first your piña clothes in warm water for a few minutes. Use just a bit of mild detergent.
  • If the fabric has turned yellowish, add some vinegar into the water and soak it overnight.
  • Gently hand wash the material.
  • Scrub off dirt with a soft toothbrush. But don’t brush on the embroidery.
  • Rinse it in up and down motion. Do not twist or wring the material. You might ruin the embroidery and the cloth itself.
  • Let it drip dry. You may also lay it flat to dry.
  • Iron your piña on low to medium heat while it is still a bit damp.
  • Cover your piña with a dark cloth to keep it from getting discolored. Store it hanging in a closet.

Sustainability

Piña fabric comes from a sustainable source. Pineapple plants respond better to fungicide-free soil.  And so, they mark a friendlier footprint on the environment. Weavers also use only natural herbs and plants to dye the material used in ‘calado’.

To sum it all up, piña fabric makes a very good eco-wear.

 

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