Arruda Açores is a unique pineapple plantation, where the fruits are grown in greenhouses. Following the end of the orange cycle in the Azores, pineapples that were brought to the islands in the 19th century provided another source of income for farmers. The islands do not have the sort of climate that pineapples require to grow and thrive and so pineapple greenhouses were created. It is estimated that São Miguel now has around 6,000 greenhouses and all sorts of products made from pineapples can be found on the island including cake, jam, chutney, mustard, liqueur, sweets and chocolate.
Our first stop on the tour of the plantation is the nursery, where our guide shows us the root that is used to plant the pineapples and explains how the soil of organic matter is made. Once the plants reach maturity they are transferred from the nursery to a greenhouse where they are neatly planted in rows.
It takes approximately one year for one fruit to grow and so each greenhouse contains around 1,000 plants. These plants are watered regularly and the greenhouses are smoked to help catalyse simultaneous flowering. The smoke also helps to ward off insects and bugs that could damage the plants, as pesticides are not used.
Pineapples are not just one fruit but a composite of many flowers whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Pineapples are a great source of vitamins and minerals such as thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, manganese and potassium and antioxidants and polyphenols such as beta-carotene. Fresh pineapple is also the only source of an enzyme called bromelain, which is though to help alleviate join pain and arthritus, reduce inflammation, inhibit tumour growth and shorten recovery time following plastic surgery.