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February 23
Pineapples & Jell-O & The Cosmic Question

pineapple plant(Written around 2005) Today you will learn why you can't put fresh pineapple in Jell-O but you can put canned pineapple in Jell-O. And then you will learn how to grow your own pineapple from the top of a store-bought pineapple plant.

First, the Jell-O warning. On every box of Jell-O it now says "Do not use fresh or frozen pineapple, kiwi, gingerroot, papaya, figs, or guava. Gelatin will not set." It used to be just pineapple, but we 'muricans have become more sophisticated eaters. We still eat Jell-O, but we would consider putting kiwi fruit in it. I guess that is progress.

Mother told me it wouldn't set if you used fresh pineapple, and I believed her and never even asked why until today. Today I cracked open a nice fresh pineapple ($1 at the 17th Street Market in Tucson--organic!) and immediately wondered why fresh pineapple didn't work but canned DID work. Probably I wondered because now there's the internet and every single question can be answered with the click of a mouse. Oh, almost. Search engines have a terrible time with "Why was man born just to suffer and die?" Strangely enough, if you enter this question in quotation marks in Google, you get only two pages and they are both mine. Yeah, I get off on that--so what?

The question wasn't original. It was what The Space Wanderer asked all the beings that he met in Venus on the Half-Shell by Kilgore Trout (really Philip Jose Farmer even though lots of people think it was written by Kurt Vonnegut). WARNING SPOILER WARNING--I'M GOING TO TELL THE ENDING: OK. So The Spacevenus on the half-shell Wanderer finally reaches the diety of all dieties and it is Bingo, the giant cockroach. At least


this is how I remember the story. And TSW asks Bingo, with great trepidation, "Why was man born just to suffer and die?" and Bingo says, "Why not?" And that ending, one I first thought to be very unsatisfactory indeed, has stuck with me and made me who I am today. At least the fatalistic me: the part that is positive that Karma notwithstanding, there is a charming randomness to life. You are not in control of anything that really matters--all we humans can do is skew the odds a bit. Get over it.

Back to the Pineapple Puzzle. I got the following from this site:

  1. Gelatin is made from a protein called collagen which comes from the joints of animals. Gelatin may be dissolved in hot water. As the dissolved gelatin mixture cools, the collagen forms into a matrix that traps the water; as a result, the mixture turns into the jiggling semi-solid mass that is so recognizable as Jell-O™.
  2. Pineapple belongs to a group of plants called Bromeliads. Kiwi, papaya, and figs are other types of Bromeliads. The enzyme in pineapple juice that is responsible for the breakdown of collagen is bromelin. The process of canning pineapple denatures the bromelin, rendering it incapable of catalyzing the break down of gelatin.

Now you need to know how to grow your own (site from which this was taken has vanished so there is no attribution).

Subject: Growing pineapple plant from fruit?
Date: Mon, 1 Aug 94 14:05:25 CDT

The following method works for me:

1) Cut the top off the pineapple and remove all of the fruit. If you leave some fruit on it will rot the top.

2) Remove the bottom 1" or 1 and 1/2" of leaves The stalk will root but the leaves will rot.

3) (the secret) Dry the top for two days or until a callous forms Depending on the humidity this could be as short as a day or as long asa week. Do this some place cool and dry. If you don't do this the stalk will rot.

4) Dip the stalk end in water and then into rooting hormone. This makes rooting faster.

5) Lay the stalk in a pot of fast draining potting soil so that only part of the stalk is touching the soil.

Don't put the entire stalk in the soil. In other words DO NOT plat the stalk in a vertical position. If you do then it is highly likely the stalk will rot. If you live in a very dry climate (e.g., Arizona or new mexico) then put the pot and stalk in a plastic bag (e.g., dry cleaning bag) to conserve moisture.

6) Mist frequently to keep the soil moist but not wet. Roots should appear in 2 or 3 weeks.

7) Once roots appear, repot the pineapple (this time in the vertical position) in a fast draining pooting soil (e.g., half pooting soil half perlite).

Remember, pineapples are actually bromeliads. Hence they like tropical conditions. High light, constant humidity, and constant lite fertilizer in the summer time.

In 2 or 3 years, it will grow another pineapple.

Unlike "why was man born just to suffer and die," some things are nice and simple.

Saints celebrating feast days today include Saint Polycarp, Saint Serenus the Gardener or Cerneuf of Billom, Saint Alexander Akimetes, Saint Peter Damian, Saint Dositheus, Saint Boisil or Boswell, Saint Milburga and Mildgytha, and Saint Willigis.

Famous birthdays today include Peter Fonda (1939, NYC).

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Marilyn Jones 2001-2008