While you probably already have a multitude of favorite recipes for the juicy flesh of the pineapple, what do you with the core? It’s still fragrant and sweet, but the tough core isn’t pleasant to munch on. It can be blended, added to sangria or used to make a broth for seafood stew or South-East Asian soups, but we prefer a fresh and simple slaw.

TuCamino Travel's fearless leader, Nena Belen Ocampo, taking the beloved pineapple out for a surf.

TuCamino Travel's fearless leader, Nena Belen Ocampo, taking the beloved pineapple out for a surf.

Once symbolic of the Hawaiian Islands where Dole’s 1950s plantation empire boomed, the pineapple is now a dominant part of the Costa Rican identity. Since the 1980s, a majority of pineapple production relocated to the lush, tiny country, which now produces over 60% of the world’s pineapples for export.[1]

Known as piña because it reminded Christopher Columbus of a pinecone, it originated in Brazil but made its way to Central America, where it was prized by the Mayans and Aztecs. The only edible species in the bromeliad family, it’s the singular food source for bromelain, an enzyme that is anti-inflammatory and aids digestion, circulation and immunity. Though simple to propagate and grow, each pineapple plant takes 2-3 years to bear just one or two fruits. Now that surely justifies the price on its spiky, golden head!

Roughly 26,000 Costa Ricans and Nicaraguan migrant workers earn their living working in the pineapple fields,[2] growing sweet and juicy treats for the whole country and world. Our fruit stands, markets, and produce trucks are stuffed with the poky little things, but in Puerto Viejo, we prefer to grab ours at our weekly organic farmers market. Our neighbors and countrymen who work on conventional farms are exposed to harsh agrochemicals in their daily work and we truly hope that soon all farms will be organic, sparing the health of the workers and the land. Those same chemicals also contaminate the groundwater, rivers and oceans and all the biodiversity that depends on them for survival.

When you visit Costa Rica, you are immersed in a rich density of living things — from people to plants to creature — that is almost overwhelming abundant; the food is no exception! Simple, fresh, nutritious meals are the mainstay here and perhaps that’s why Costa Ricans are categorized as some of the happiest, longest-living people on the planet. What’s so particularly magical is that by choosing to eat this wondrous, healthy food you actually help to preserve it for generations to come.

We must enjoy the products of our international neighbors in harmony and moderation — whether you are drinking a post-surf pineapple-turmeric juice with us while on a TuCamino trip or you’re in the wintry north eating a Christmas pineapple upside-down cake with your family — you are a welcome part of the Costa Rican farming system! Choose organic and fair trade and you will make a positive impact on both your body and your global community. 

As it grows, the pineapple emerges as a tiny version of itself, splendid with sacred geometry. 

As it grows, the pineapple emerges as a tiny version of itself, splendid with sacred geometry. 


Caribbean Pineapple Core Slaw

Prep time: 10 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Pineapple Core
¼ Head Green Cabbage
¼ Head Red Cabbage
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Bunch Cilantro
1 Red Onion
1 tbsp. Natural Sea Salt
1 tbsp. Black Pepper
1 tsp. Ground Jamaica Pepper (Allspice)
¼ Cup Coconut Cream
1 Lime

Method:

Finely slice the cabbage and massage with the sea salt. Set aside. (This will help to break down the cabbage, making it more digestible and nutritious).

Grate the pineapple core using the large-holed side of a cheese grater or a mandolin with a julienne blade (if using the latter, go slow and protect your finger tips!). Thinly slice the red onion and bell pepper and add to grated pineapple.

In a separate bowl, add the coconut cream and stir in the cilantro, roughly chopped, along with the spices. Gradually whip in the juice of the lime.

Stir the creamy coconut sauce into to the cabbage, then add the pineapple mix. Toss all together thoroughly and enjoy!


[1] Source: http://foodtank.com/news/2015/05/costa-ricas-pineapple-monopoly-not-so-sweet

[2] Source: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2010/oct/02/truth-about-pineapple-productio

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