In June 1892, the Queensland Pineapple Company dispatched fifty cases of canned pineapples to London and Berlin, via the ship Jelunga. The newspaper reported that it was hoped that this new industry would soon “assume large proportions,” and that:
The company expect to reach an annual export trade of 20,000 or 30,000 cases, which should considerably relieve the local market, and prevent that glutting of the Southern markets which has been so frequent of late. The method employed is to preserve the finest pines in juice crushed from smaller fruit. By this means the flavour is enriched, while only sufficient sugar is added to insure preservation. The practice in Singapore is to preserve with sugar only, but this system extracts the richness of the pine and renders the fruit insipid. What will probably prove the favourite style of packing is that of slicing the pines –nearly two being put up in one tin- and when the fruit finds its way on to the coast markets, on the diggings, and in the dry west of the colony it should become very popular.
Fresh pineapple was so easily available to most Queenslanders living in the tropical coastal regions that recipes for the canned product were not common in newspaper columns of those early years. Over time however, convenience inevitably won out, and canned pineapple became a popular standby.
Here are some of my recipe gleanings, especially for those of you a long way from a cheap fresh pineapple:
To one quarter cupful of canned pineapple juice add half a cupful of the canned pineapple pulp put through a food chopper, one cupful of granulated sugar and one tablespoonful of lemon juice. Let the mixture come to the boiling point over brisk heat, then simmer for five minutes and cool before using. Whole-wheat or any bread of coarse texture is particularly nice to use with this filling.
Cairns Post, 25 October 1926.
Sweet Potato and Pineapple.
Wash potatoes and boil until tender. Skin, press through potato ricer, and beat until smooth and creamy, adding sugar to taste. In a buttered baking dish arrange a layer of the potato and a layer of drained canned pineapple, using pineapple for top layer. Heat In oven and serve immediately.
Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld.) 21 November 1931
One tin pineapple cubes; 6 oz. self-raising flour, pinch salt, 1 tablespoon butter, ½ cup milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 egg.
Raisin Filling: Four ounces chopped raisins, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon mixed together.
Pour contents of 1 tin of pineapple cubes into an oven-proof dish and heat thoroughly. Sift flour, salt, and sugar together and rub in butter. Beat egg and add to milk, then add to dry ingredients to make a fairly stiff dough. Roll out into an oblong shape, cover with raisin filling, then roll up as for Swiss roll. Glaze with a little milk. Cut into slices 1 inch thick and place on top of hot pineapple, cut side up. Bake in hot oven 20 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or ice-cream
Australian Women’s Weekly, 2 July 1958
The Australian Women’s Weekly ran a competition in 1962 for recipes using canned Queensland pineapple. The final first prize was to be ₤100 (decimal currency was introduced in 1966), but “progress prizewinners” received ₤5 for recipes published before the closing date. The contributor of the following recipe was one of the progress prizewinners.
Steak Casserole with Pineapple and Ham Dumplings.
One and a half pounds topside or blade steak, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, 2 tablespoons butter or substitute, 2 onions, 1 carrot (sliced into rings), 1 diced green pepper (optional), ½ cup chopped celery, 1 tablespoon tomato sauce, 1 10oz. can cream of celery soup, 2 cups water or stock.
Pineapple and Ham Dumplings: One and a half cups self-raising flour, pinch cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 oz. butter or substitute, ¾ cup crushed and drained canned pineapple, 1 dessertspoon finely chopped celery, ½ cup finely chopped ham, 6 tablespoons milk.
Crumb Topping: One cup soft white breadcrumbs, 2 dessertspons butter or substitute, 1 oz. grated cheese.
Cut steak into 1 in cubes, coat with flour, salt, and pepper. Fry in heated butter or substitute until browned on all sides. Place in deep casserole. Add onions to pan, sauté lightly. Add to casserole with the tomato sauce, carrots, celery, and green pepper. Cover, cook in moderate oven 1½ to 2 hours.
Dumplings: Sift flour with salt and cayenne. Rub in butter, add pineapple, ham, and celery. Mix to soft dough with milk. Drop mixture in dessertspoonfuls into boiling casserole, sprinkle with crumb topping made with melted butter, grated cheese, and breadcrumbs mixed together. Bake uncovered in hot oven 20 minutes.
Australian Women’s Weekly, July 4, 1962
"One tin pineapple cubes" - this sort of instruction is very common, if unfortunate. Back then there may have only been one size of tinned pineapple available, but nowadays there are quite a few. So many recipes don't specify can size or amount, and it can really make a difference!
I noticed when I was stationed in Japan the local fondness for ham and pineapple. Is this an Australasia thing?
Ham and pineapple is indeed a favourite combination here - especially for pizzas!
Still remember on the Naked Vicar Show tapes, this: (Noeline Brown doing a parody Home Beautiful type segment:)
"And now dahlings, something wonderful to do with pineapple pieces! Try and put them together again!"
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