Don't skip a visit to a pineapple greenhouse in São Miguel Island
São Miguel is the only place in the world where pineapples are grown in greenhouses! Although the island is home to over 6,000 pineapple plantations, only a select few are open to the public, including Ananás Arruda, Plantação de Ananás dos Açores and Ananás de Santo António. After the disappearance of the island's orange crops, Augusto Arruda decided to take a chance on growing pineapples, then just an imported tropical fruit brought over from Brazil. He began producing pineapples around 100 years ago in Fajã de Baixo, right next to his impressive family property. The unique fertility of the island's soil, coupled with very precise maturation methods inside the plantation's greenhouses, produce small but mighty fruits packed with more sweetness and less acidity than their counterparts around the world.
The pineapple is a perennial plant that only produces 1 single fruit every 2-3 years. After about 6 months of growth, the seedlings will undergo a special fertilization: fumigation by smoke! The origin of using smoke to cause fertilization seems to have originated as a fluke, as producers discovered the smoke caused the plants bloom more quickly and efficiently after a fire.
The process is simple: the greenhouse is closed and the smoke remains inside it for a week. The greenhouses remain completely closed to prevent the circulation of air to allow temperatures to rise to 40°C (104°F). Each nursery produces around 700 pineapples, but Arruda only exports perfect fruits that meet his strict standards: they must weigh 1kg, have rounded scales, a crown no larger than 2cm and a beautiful and harmonious overall appearance. Any pineapple that falls below these standards is used for the production of multiple byproducts such as liqueurs, mustard, chutney, jam or fruit juices. Currently there are minimal exports and the pineapple from Azores is mainly used for local consumption and sold to tourists.