In Season: David Rotter's Pickled Pineapple

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Photo: Bobby Doherty. Illustrations by John Burgoyne.

Europe first encountered this wacky-looking New World fruit in 1493 when Columbus presented one to the Spanish royal court, but for centuries afterward it remained so coveted and rare that it was dubbed “fruit of kings.” (In 1675, King Charles II of England even posed with one for an official portrait.) Today, pineapples are available year-round but at their best from March through July. Perfectly ripe and sliced into juicy chunks, they’re hard to beat, but Boulton & Watt chef David Rotter has proved that pickling them is a tasty alternative, packing an explosively tangy punch.

David Rotter’s Pickled Pineapple

1 piece star anise
1/8 of a cinnamon stick
1 clove
1 tbs. fennel seed
1 tbs. coriander seed
1 tbs. mustard seed
1 tsp. chile flakes
3 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cups distilled vinegar
6 cups water
3 tbs. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 pineapple
1/2 habanero pepper
2 sprigs basil
5 sprigs mint

Combine spices, thyme, vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. (1) Strain and set aside. Place the pineapple on its side, and cut off the top and the base. (2) Stand it on an end, and cut away the peel. (3) Core and slice into bite-size pieces, then place these into a nonreactive bowl with the habanero pepper, basil, and mint. Pour strained pickling liquid over the pineapple, cover with a pot lid or plate, and let sit for an hour on the counter. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, then place in a Tupperware container with about half the liquid. Refrigerated, the pineapple will last about 2 weeks. Serves 8.

*This article originally appeared in the April 15, 2013 issue of New York Magazine.