Meet the Farmer: Hawaii Pineapple Farmer Ken Love

By Janice Wald Henderson, January/February 2008

Ken Love cultivates his passion for pineapple on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Pineapple does best in the tropics, where it takes about one and a half to two years to bear fruit. “First a flower forms,” says Love. “Then a baby pineapple. It’s a composite fruit, made of hundreds of tiny fruitlets that merge into one.”
Standing on his porch, Love can see pineapple plants growing just 50 feet away. “You can always tell when a pineapple needs picking,” he says. “It smells so sweet.”

When working the fields, he often cuts up a ripe pineapple for a quick energy boost. Sometimes Love dons his other hat (culinary instructor and trained chef) with his wife Margy to make pineapple jams, jellies, fudge and sauces.

Pineapple’s merits seem endless. Its versatility is astonishing, brightening global recipes like a 1,000-watt bulb. In Thai tom yum soup, for instance, pineapple adds vital sweetness, beautifully balancing the heat. And Caribbean coconut layer cake is like yin without yang until pineapple adds its sun-kissed bliss.

In wintertime, when seasonal fruit choices can be slim, I turn to pineapple. Like a best friend, it’s one fruit I can count on. The sky may be gray and the trees barren, but when I eat pineapple, I feel the tropics.

This winter, you’ll find me in the kitchen, playing with pineapple and humming my take on a Beatles classic. Actually, had the Fab Four toured Hawaii, they probably would have written the song “Pineapple Fields Forever.”

Food and travel journalist Janice Wald Henderson travels the globe, but has a special interest in Hawaii. She is a cookbook author and frequent contributor to national magazines.

EatingWell in Season: The Farmers’ Market Cookbook. Copyright 2009 by Eating Well, Inc. Published by The Countryman Press, P.O. Box 748, Woodstock, VT 05091. It is prohibited to copy, redistribute or transmit this work for any purpose, commercial or otherwise, without the express written permission of the publisher.

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