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Candied pineapple is actual fruit that has been preserved in sugar. This type of preserved pineapple can be served as is, added to recipes, or used as a garnish. When candied, pineapple can be stored at room temperature and has a long shelf life. Preserved pineapple can be purchased in chunk or ring form; food coloring is sometimes added to enhance the appearance of candied pineapple. Most grocery and cooking catalogs stock preserved pineapple year-round, but the product is most prominently displayed during the winter holiday season.
While candied pineapple can be purchased in the grocery store, it can also be made at home using fresh pineapple. The pineapple is sliced or cut into chunks and then simmered in a simple sugar syrup. Once cooked, the pineapple can be used immediately or stored; the sugar acts as a natural preservative. Homemade candied pineapple and the commercially prepared version can be used interchangeably in recipes.
Baked goods like fruitcake and holiday cookies often contain candied pineapple, cherries, and citrus fruits. The candied fruits are used to add a festive, stained-glass effect to finished baked goods. Candied pineapple can add an unexpected twist to grilled or baked meats; many Hawaiian-inspired recipes include rings or chunks of preserved pineapple.
The most common colors for candied pineapple are natural yellow, green, and red. The different hues are achieved by adding food coloring to the sugar syrup prior to cooking. Colored pineapple tastes the same as the natural version; the color is merely an aesthetic change designed to add variety.
Many holiday recipes call for candied fruits, so they are the easiest to find and purchase during the Christmas and winter holiday season. While preserved pineapple is available year-round, the largest selection of colors and shapes is likely to be found during the holiday baking season. Since the pineapple is preserved and shelf stable, purchasing it at a discount during the holidays and saving it to use for the year is one way to save money on baking ingredients.
The chunk form of candied pineapple is used for fruitcakes, pies, and cookies, while the rings are most often used to garnish finished poultry and meat dishes, or to accent pineapple upside down cake. Any form of candied pineapple can be cut with kitchen shears as needed; smaller chunks may be more desirable for a recipe or as a cake or cupcake decoration.
Though I've never tried candied pineapple, this seems like a worthwhile addition to anyone who loves pineapple, myself included. Sounds like a great treat for the holidays as well. Although I do wonder how much the taste differs from "fresh" pineapple. That would be an interesting comparison.