Why pineapple makes your mouth itch + tips to prevent it

March 23, 2024 (Last Updated: March 22, 2024)

The experience of eating freshly cut, sweet pineapple can often be dampened by the feeling of an itchy mouth. But did you know that there are ways to get around it?

The itching sensation that often accompanies eating pineapple is caused by an enzyme called bromelain. The itching occurs when bromelain breaks down proteins, and essentially attacks the sensitive areas around your mouth, ie. your tongue, cheeks, and lips on contact.

Once the pineapple is chewed and swallowed, though, your saliva and stomach acids stop the reaction from occurring internally. Thank goodness.

If you enjoy pineapple but can’t stand the itchy mouth sensation, there are some hacks you could try to break down the bromelain before you tuck in:

Peel thoroughly

Bromelain concentration in pineapples is often higher in the core (the harder, middle part of the pineapple) and the prickly outer skin. By ensuring that all the skin is peeled off the pineapple thoroughly, you’ll reduce the chances of the itchy sensation. If you’d like, you could also cut the core away – some people would argue that it’s the best bit, though.

Cover your pineapple in salt, then rinse

Salt, or saltwater, can act as a neutralising agent to bromelain. Before you tuck into your peeled fruit, rub with salt and rinse, or dip in saltwater and rinse. The same can be done with lemon juice, or vinegar. Salt works best, though.

Alternatively, you could try pairing pineapple with other neutralising agents. Dairy products like milk or yoghurt could work.

Save the pineapple for pizzas and salads

Bromelain is sensitive to heat, so cooking or heating the pineapple could denature the enzyme and reduce its effect. This won’t work if you’re looking for a fresh slice of pineapple to bite down on, but could work if you’re adding pineapple to meals, such as adding it to your pizza, or char-grilling and adding to salad or tacos. Yum.

Choose the ripest of the bunch

Ripe pineapple tends to have lower concentrations of bromelain compared to unripe pineapple. When you’re at the store, pick out a pineapple that’s golden and firm, the leaves should still be green without any wilting or brownness. A ripe pineapple also gives off a sweeter aroma.

Try these hacks next time you’re really in the mood for pineapple, and let us know how they work!

ALSO SEE: Pineapple fridge tart recipe

Pineapple fridge tart recipe

Written by Savanna Douglas for Woman&Home.

Feature image: Pexels

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