Pineapples are a juicy, tropical treat that offer more health benefits than you might think. But one tricky thing about pineapples is cutting out the core, which many people discard after removing. But don't let their fibrous nature fool you: pineapple cores are actually edible and filled with nutrients. Here's everything you need to know about pineapple cores.
Related: Healthy Pineapple Smoothie Recipes
Is It Safe to Eat the Core of a Pineapple?
Yes! It is safe to eat the core of a pineapple. Although it is less juicy and slightly more bitter compared to the flesh that surrounds it, there is nothing unsafe about eating a pineapple core.
Health Benefits of Pineapple Core
Just like the flesh, the pineapple core is filled with nutrients that boast potential health benefits.
A group of enzymes, collectively referred to as bromelain, can be found in the fruit and stem of the pineapple plant, with especially high concentrations in the core. Preliminary research has shown that bromelain can be beneficial for reducing pain or swelling, even after injury. In a February 2015 research paper published in the Indonesian Biomedical Journal, macerating the pineapple core produced high concentrations of bromelain, which helps break down protein in the digestive tract and even has anti-inflammatory properties.
Oranges aren't the only way to get your vitamin C; pineapple cores are packed with this antioxidant as well. Per the National Institutes of Health, vitamin C is needed to make collagen in the body and can improve the absorption of iron, in addition to its immune-boosting properties.
Why We Usually Don't Eat the Core of Pineapple
The core isn't always appealing because it is harder and more fibrous than the other pineapple flesh you know and love. But times might be changing!
"We have been seeing a growing interest in consuming parts of foods that are traditionally thrown away or composted," says William Goldfield, director of corporate communications at Dole. "From pineapple cores to banana peels, it makes a lot of sense nutritionally to consume these foods because they are made up of the same nutrients as the flesh, and in some cases, like the skin, antioxidants are highly concentrated." (Here are a few more ways to easily reduce your food waste at home.)
How to Cut Out the Pineapple Core
You can cut a pineapple easily with a sharp knife and cutting board in just a few steps:
Lay the pineapple on its side on a cutting board; slice off the crown and stem ends. (Hang onto the crown to grow your own pineapple!)
Stand the pineapple upright and cut the skin off from top to bottom, leaving as much flesh intact as possible.
Make smaller, thinner cuts in the same style to remove the brown "eyes."
Slice the pineapple flesh away from the center core into large rectangular slices. Chop into pieces as needed. Now, only the core remains!
Whether you're feeling uneasy about your knife skills or want to leave the fruit mostly intact with just the core removed from the center, our editors love this stainless-steel corer, which can make your core removal even easier.
How to Prepare or Cook Pineapple Core
While you can technically eat it as is, pineapple core can be made slightly softer and more digestible by boiling it briefly in water, Goldfield recommends. "It can then be sliced as a topping for oatmeal, overnight oats or a fruit parfait. Another idea for using the core is to simply grate it raw as a refreshing crumble over salads."
Or, after boiling, cut up the newly softened core and puree it. Add the homemade puree to your favorite pineapple smoothie recipe or even to a refreshing piña colada. You could even skip boiling—and instead throw the core on the grill until it softens up, for a sweet and smoky addition to your next backyard barbecue.
Try using the prepared core in these Prosciutto-Wrapped Pineapple Bites for a sweet-and-salty appetizer that will please a crowd, or sub it into this recipe for Easy Pineapple Coleslaw and enjoy a fresh take on a traditional slaw.
It's time to start eating more of the pineapple. Not only is the core tasty, it's good for you and using it means you create less food waste. Shredding, boiling or grilling are all great options to make the fruit's core more palatable and enjoyable.
Related: 23 Recipes That Use Pineapple Juice