I remember the first time I ever saw a field of pineapples. My (soon-to-be) husband and I were on our way to Noosa on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, and we were so amazed by the sight of the massive pineapple plantation that we stopped by the side of the road to take photographs.
We were travelling through pineapple country - the major growing regions in Australia being South East the Sunshine Coast hinterlands in south east Queensland; as well as Maryborough and Wide Bay, the Yeppoon district, and north, all the way up to Mareeba and Mosman.
It was the summer of 1976 and the image, which is still in one of my old albums, has turned a pretty hue of pink now, otherwise I might share it with you. A few kilometres down the road, we stopped in at The Big Pineapple in Nambour and tasted some of that fresh fruit. It was exquisite. Sun-warmed, ripe and perfectly sweet.
Australian pineapples are available all year round, and from now through until February they are at their best in terms of value. The good people at Australian Pineapples kindly sent me a couple of pineapples recently. I so wish that you could have been in my kitchen at the time. Oh, the aroma!
Coincidentally, I had some blood oranges in the fridge, from my grower friends at Redbelly Citrus, so I hunted through my library of cookbooks for a recipe that teamed the two. The recipe I'm sharing has been adapted from one that appeared in Australian Gourmet Traveller's Simple (ACP, 2003). I used only half a pineapple, less oranges, and also cut down the quantity of sugar.
Unlike the former days of gluttony and hedonism, Peter and I no longer eat a dessert every evening - so this was quite a treat!
CARAMELISED SPICED PINEAPPLE & BLOOD ORANGE DESSERT
1/4 cup caster sugar
zest of a lime and one blood orange
1/2 cup water
1 small star anise
1 vanilla bean, split
400g fresh pineapple
2 fresh blood oranges
2 tablespoons vanilla infused caster sugar, extra
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
Combine the 1/4 cup of caster sugar with the water, zest, star anise and vanilla bean in a small saucepan. Stir the mixture over a medium heat, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the stove and set the syrup aside to cool.
Peel the pineapple and cut it into slices around 1cm in thickness. Cut away the rind and bitter white pith from the oranges and cut the orange into 1cm slices. Sprinkle the extra caster sugar over the fruit. Brush or spray a non-stick frypan with the oil and cook the pineapple and orange slices, turning once, until nicely caramelised. Allow the fruit to cool slightly.
Arrange the fruit in a serving bowl and drizzle over the cooled syrup. Refrigerate the dessert until ready to serve. This quantity will serve 4 and takes almost no time to make. If you like you can serve it with spiced mascarpone cream or a Greek yoghurt.
Over to you now, dear readers. Do you like fresh pineapple? Is it readily available in your part of the world? What's your favourite way of eating it?
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.