Pining for Pineapples June 26 2014 1 Comment

A green rosette of pointy leaves, a bright reddish purple centre and you know that a pineapple is beginning to grow. As the flower grows, you notice that it is not one single flower but a cluster of small purple flowers – indeed the pineapple is a set of multiple coalesced berries.    

And some maths-buffs claim that what is more amazing is that the eyes of the pineapple are arranged in two interlocking helices that are Fibonacci’s numbers! (Fibonacci’s series is a series of numbers where each number is the sum of the previous two ... so it is like 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 ......and so on).

I spent a great deal of time counting the eyes but cannot say for sure that all pineapples adhere to this formula.

Well numbers apart, after a whole years wait, what we get from each plant is a just a single pineapple. That is how rare a pine-apple is! And do the monkeys and wild boar love it? Oh yes! they do. They don’t mind eating it even before it ripens fully. The first year after we moved to the farm, I saw with dismay that every pine-apple was plucked and savagely eaten before it ripened. We managed to get about 8 or 10 in the entire season.    

Was there nothing that I could do to save them? I tried camouflaging them with dried banana leaves and managed to save them from the marauding monkeys. But the minute they started ripening, the smell would attract the wild boar and they would make a feast of it. (Now you might just wonder, why don’t we simply drive them away? For one - the wild boars come during the night – the dogs do bark if they wander very close to the house, but it is really not practical to go hooting and making a racket to drive them out, besides, by the time you do it, the pineapples would be eaten anyway. And the stories of wild boar attacking humans after being startled are many and gory).

So I have been racking my brains and trying to read up on every bit of information about wild boars. One thing is sure, they are actually very wary of humans, and according to our farm hand Manjunath, if you keep out some fruit as bait to trap them, they shy away from it since they can smell the human touch on it. Why not use this to our advantage, I thought. I pulled out all the old clothes kept aside for discarding, cut them up and put them around each pineapple - a prickly and laborious task. So each pineapple is now wearing a shirt sleeve or a bright kurta piece like a poncho.

And since they are hidden from view, I need to lift the cloth (.. and leave the scent of human touch) and check them every now and then to see if they have started ripening. The idea seems to be working because last season, we could save about 55 to 60 pine-apples. Fortunately, they all did not ripen at once, so we had a steady supply of pineapples for the whole of April and May and then a last batch that ripened in June. And we had pineapples for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Jammed, stewed and sundried. And you could spot visitors to our farm carting back a couple of the prickly fruit (if they were willing).

So the next time you have a craving for pineapples, you know where to head for.