Grown in greenhouses on the island of São Miguel, this type of pineapple is unique to the island of Sao Miguel, but in fact originated in Central and South America. It was introduced to the island as an ornamental plant by Portuguese navigators in the 18th century. As the citrus trade with the UK declined in the 1860’s pineapples became a replacement crop that could be traded. Highly prized in Victorian England where such plants could not be grown, sales expanded throughout Europe, enjoyed by the royal courts as a culinary highlight.
In 1864, the first industrial-scale greenhouse was built to facilitate this trade. Due to the climate in the Azores, greenhouses were built to create the year-round humidity that is needed. During the golden age of exports, there were over 3,000 greenhouses producing 2,000 tonnes of pineapples.
These plants are fascinating and unique to the Azores. Cultivation can take up to 3 years, and they are much sweeter in taste with less acidity than their counterparts around the world. A number of greenhouses and plantations can still be found on the island of Sao Miguel (mostly on the sunnier, south side of the island.) Pineapple plants, in NASA backed tests have been shown to reduce snoring due to the particulates that they take in at night.
Smoke is used in the growing process of the pineapples. Discovered by accident in the early 20 century, when a heating pipe broke underneath one of the greenhouses releasing smoke. The farmer thought the crop was ruined, and was happily surprised weeks later when all the pineapples appeared at the same time. This is beneficial to the famers as it means a crop can be sold at the same time in enough numbers to be able to make a small profit.
The best place to purchase the fruits is at the farmers market at Santana on a Thursday morning. Guests of the estate can join Ali & Una for a complimentary tour by booking here. If you wish to look around a pineapple farm as part of a private tour, speak to us on the estate or email us and we will happily send you further details.