Pineapple adventures: Part 1

This is a very special year, because it marks the first (and possibly last, I’m still thinking about it) year that I make my own pineapple tarts. Yes, the pineapple tarts that are an essential item in every Chinese Singaporean’s house during Chinese New Year. I am a huge fan of those melt-in-your-mouth nuggets of sweet and tart happiness, and there is no way I’m going to get those here in Boston this year, so I figured, might as well make my own.

What I did not expect, was that the five pineapples I cut up and cooked into jam would eat all my fingerprints.

Earlier tonight, Theresa and I made the pineapple jam that goes inside of the pineapple tarts. We bought five pineapples, Theresa did the peeling (amazingly strong woman because I could barely get the knife to go halfway) and I chopped the pineapples into small pieces. Then, I blended the pineapples until they resembled a smoothie, and let them reduce in a large pan.

And everything more or less ran smoothly, until we were washing up, and Theresa remarked that my dishwashing liquid seemed to be really hard to wash off. All the dishes felt ‘soapy,’ despite having visibly rinsed off any foam or bubbles. That was not because of the dishwashing liquid; it was because the pineapple destroyed our fingerprints.

OK, so I knew that pineapple tenderizes meat and ‘burns’ our tongues. An enzyme in pineapple, bromelain, breaks down the proteins in meat to make them softer for chewing. It does the same to the cells of our tongues, which I learned, painfully, when I was seven and ate a giant piece of pineapple. My tongue burned and ached the whole day, and I have avoided raw pineapple since.

But hands? This I have not experienced or heard of. My hands are so smooth now that I’m afraid to use a glass. It doesn’t hurt or itch, it’s just so smooth that it occurred to me to run a Google search on pineapples removing dead skin cells. And bingo, there’s actually a facial wash that contains enzymes from pineapple and claims to get rid of dead skin cells. And I believe them. But I’m not going to use that product.

So pineapples are scary and mental notes to self:

  1. Wear gloves when handling pineapple, if I ever handle pineapple again.
  2. Next time I am back in Singapore or Malaysia and see homemade pineapple tarts, appreciate the people who made it and do not complain about how expensive they are, because they are so, so, so hard to make. I really get it now.

I wish I had taken a photo of the pineapples before we went at them, but here’s a picture of pineapple jam rolled into balls and ready for wrapping with dough. And tomorrow, we’ll have a giant batch of pineapple tarts, if everything goes according to plan. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Pineapple jam rolled into balls.