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April/May 2014

Canned Crushed Pineapple

We put three supermarket pineapple products to the test, sampling them both plain and in baked goods.

How We Tested

Buying a can of pineapple is a convenient way to eat the fruit without tangling with its spiky green fronds and eye-riddled peel. We use the crushed version in recipes that don’t require whole rings or large chunks. But we had a question: If it’s just fresh fruit, cut up and canned, are there noticeable differences from product to product? On supermarket shelves, we found three national products packed in pineapple juice (which we prefer to sugary syrup). We tasted each crushed pineapple in two blind taste tests, sampling them plain and baked in a cake.

Our verdict: Brand matters. We can recommend two products with small, even chunks that tasted “almost like fresh” and gave the cake textural interest. The third product had a texture like that of “baby food.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the size of crushed pineapple, requiring “finely cut or finely shredded or grated or diced”; the definition apparently leaves lots of wiggle room.

There are more than 100 varieties of pineapple, so we checked in with the manufacturers of the products that we tasted and learned that the two we liked use Smooth Cayenne pineapples, while the product we disliked uses Queen Victorias. Both varieties are said to have excellent flavor when eaten fresh, but the Smooth Cayennes are prized for canning because they hold their shape well when processed—exactly what our tasters noticed.

Our top two products were also “perfectly sweet,” with “fuller,” “intense” flavor, while the bottom-ranking product tasted “flat.” Nutrition labels revealed that the losing product had 2 to 3 fewer grams of naturally derived sugar per 1/2-cup serving. Experts we spoke with said that variety, processing, harvesting time, and postharvest storage and handling all affect flavor, as well.

In the end, our winner, the least expensive product in our lineup, was lightly sweet yet tart, with recognizable pineapple chunks—just right for our baking and cooking needs.

Methodology

We asked 21 test kitchen editors and cooks to taste each crushed pineapple in two blind taste tests, sampling them plain and baked in a cake.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.