Most people when they associate the cultivation of pineapples associate it as grown in a tropical region with white sandy beaches, with palm trees swaying under a blood orange sunset. Although some of those may be the case for most pineapple production; its history in the Azores is slightly different with the cultivation being done in greenhouses. This has added a unique, sweet taste to these “King of Fruits” that has made it into one of the Azores national products and a symbol of the region for over a century.The cultivation of fruits in the Azores has always been a thriving industry throughout their history with periods of boom and bust being common due to irregular weather patterns or diseases that spread through the fruit, which is one of the reasons the pineapples are grown in greenhouses on Sao Miguel island. The merchants of the Azores in the 19th century saw the changing patterns in commercial trade and began to cultivate more profitable and reliable exports and that is where the cultivation of pineapples was introduced in the Azores, mainly the island of Sao Miguel which has made the product into the islands most notable and popular fruit.In the early 1800’s, the Azores, Australia, Hawaii, and South Africa began to grow pineapples for commercial purposes. The benefits of the mineral-rich soil and isolation from pollutants gave the pineapple the title of “King of Fruits”. After a few years of the initial trial and error period, it was discovered that many environmental elements were not in favor of pineapple cultivation and that is where the use of greenhouses began to be built to cultivate these sweet pineapples. Pineapples in the Azores have been incorporated into many desserts and is very popular as a freshly squeezed juice on the island. Many of the local cafes and snack shops offer fresh squeezed pineapple juice direct from the local plantation and are a perfect light and sweet treat to enjoy while exploring the island.
The production of the high-quality fruit’s for commercial export and regional consumption has long gone hand in hand in the Azores, where many fortunes were made exporting this exotic fruit. These sweet pineapples are available for sale throughout the year and all throughout the Azorean archipelago. Since they are cultivated in greenhouses and not outside in the perils of the Atlantic winters allows them to be produced annually with little waste due to birds or weather. The pineapple is a delicate fruit that takes time after planting for them to grow with a total production time from seed to fully ripe pineapple taking between 2-3 years. As you can imagine much time and effort goes into the production of these unique fruits and are a must try while in the Azores. You can almost smell the sweet taste of the pineapples from Sao Miguel island while walking down the avenue where local vendors sell their produce on the weekend. If you are lucky enough while on your trip to the Azores, you can pick one of these delicious fruits up from the local grocer. It should be noted to make sure if you want to travel home with a pineapple that you purchased that it is an appropriately marked pineapple, which will allow you to bring it back to your native country without any issues at the border. The local ice creams are made on the island of Sao Miguel with these natural sweet fruits, which taste outstanding and are produced with 100% natural products from the Azores. Make sure you check out the Arruda pineapple plantation which is open daily in Ponta Delgada with free tastings and they also have a gift shop with everything you could imagine pineapple! Here you can explore the greenhouses and get information on the soil required and elements needed to produce these fruits in the Azores. The family owned and operated plantation has been in the same family for 4 generations with many visitors throughout history making a point to visit these grounds on their visit to Sao Miguel.