Grown in greenhouses on the island of São Miguel, the local pineapple (Ananassa Sativus, Lindl) originated in Central and South America, and were introduced to the island as an ornamental plant by Portuguese navigators in the 17th-18th centuries.
Initially regarded as a botanical curiosity, its cultivation was marked for the landed gentry and supplied to wealthier homes. Its production gained prominence during the nineteenth century, thanks to the efforts of generations of farmers, who perfected its cultivation and agricultural techniques that accentuated its specific characteristics.
From this period on, the pineapple became an economic source of revenue with potential for driving the Azorean economy. With citrus groves decimated by gum disease, there was a need to find a substitute for the island’s orange exports and fill the gap in the region’s commercial revenues caused the loss of the staple. In 1864, the first industrial-scale greenhouse was built (with the capacity to support 800 plants) and the first exports of the fruit were begun. Ultimately, there were a total of 4300 production greenhouses cultivating the fruit: during the “Golden Age” of its exports.
Over the years, this exceptional fruit became a true “ex-libris” of the region, with greenhouses located in the main centres of (in descending order) the municipalities of Ponta Delgada, Lagoa, Vila Franca do Campo and Ribeira Grande: the civil parish of Fajã de Baixo has the greatest number of greenhouses in the region.
The Azorean/São Miguel Pineapple is a fruit cultivated in traditional greenhouses located along the island’s much warmer, southern coast. During all stages of its cultivation, a “hot bed” is prepared to support the fruit, consisting of firewood, old earth and sawdust, as well as ground incense (Pittosporum undulatum). Its cultivation is laborious and time consuming, where no pesticides or herbicides are introduced, producing an all-natural fruit of unmatched quality. Following two years of growth and maturation in local greenhouses, the fruit is harvested and sent to market.
The emphasis on a totally biological means of production, its cultivation in glass and wood structures, and the fact that the plant is cultivated at a latitude not known for the fruit, distinguishes the flavour of the Micaelense pineapple from others in the same genus.
Properties of Excellence
While literature has referred to it as the “King of Fruits”, science has also discovered the beneficial qualities of the magical fruit. High in amounts of bromelain, an essential enzyme that helps digestion and burns fat, the Azorean pineapple is far healthier choice over other rival “pineapples”.
Did you know that the Pineapple of the Azores takes two years to grow?
The Azorean/São Miguel Pineapple is produced in greenhouses using traditional cultivation techniques, that apply vapour/smoke and use of vegetable biomass “hot beds”. After a period of two years (from planting to harvest), a pineapple is produced with unique qualities that include aromatic and flavorful profile.