Diving into the many uses of “king of the pizza fruit”
Without a doubt, pineapple is the king of pizza fruit. Pairing pineapple with salty pork, luxurious melting cheeses, spicy jalapeño, nuts and herbs transforms a boring pie into a memorable experience. In any pizzeria, one of the “must have” toppings is this spiny fruit, but the cost of topping pizzas with pineapple is as varied as the uses.
Food cost always affects bottom line profits, and the use of weight-to-price foods as a commodity is traditional so pineapple can seem quite inexpensive. Don’t be fooled though. One of the heaviest components that restaurant owners (you) pay for is liquid — either in the form of juice that you’ll never use or inserted water into canned goods.
Let’s dive deep into pineapple as a topping using the variables of weight, size, spread, quality and price:
Pineapple type: As with any pizzeria, you probably buy pineapple in No. 10 cans. It can be whole, sliced, chunked, tidbits or crushed. These all come in the juice that your favorite prep person is either drinking or dumping down the drain as you read this.
Weight: This is directly linked to your profitability. When you consider your menu, the “drained weight” is all important. For example:
One No. 10 can of tidbits comes in two types, in unsweetened juice for 9 cents an ounce or unsweetened juice with water for 7 cents an ounce.
When one case comes at $45.59 a case with six cans in it, and a single can is $7.60 and produces four pounds of drained pineapple, it also gives you at least 4½ cups of juice.
Let’s do the math: $7.60 divided by 64 ounces is 12 cents an ounce.
If you are putting four ounces on a single pizza, that is 48 cents a topping.
The spread: Depending upon the size of the pineapple you are putting on a pizza, you may be doing yourself a disservice without knowing it. “Yeah, I like their Hawaiian pizza but they are really skimpy on the pineapple.” This may be what your customers are saying if you are using too big a pineapple chunk on your pizzas. You may also get “I cannot even taste the pineapple on this pie…” if you are using too small a tidbit on a pie. The decision is yours.
Quality and price: To taste a wonderful, yellow, sweet pineapple on a pizza is a great thing to offer your customers. Going to the bottom line just for cost is a double edged sword and can lead to inferior pizzas. If you want to see what this leads to, just go to your local corporate pizza store and ask yourself, is this where I want to go?
Topping combinations: These items all pair very well with pineapple: coconut; almond; almond paste; cilantro; cinnamon; mint; mangos; brown sugar; balsamic glaze; curry; lime; ginger; black beans; red onion; kimchi; cashews; goat and bleu cheeses; aged provolone; chicken; honey; watercress; pistachios; ham; bacon; shrimp; rosemary; spinach and even cayenne pepper.
Sweet and Sour Stuffed Poblanos and Jalepeños
These semi-spicy stuffed peppers are sour and sweet and are perfect for serving on pizzas during the late summer glut of peppers you may have in your community or even as a stand-alone appetizer to serve in your restaurant.
Pineapple Upside-Down Pizza
This pizza is one of my favorites and is surprisingly easy to make. The slices of pineapple are more expensive than tidbits; But without any meats, this pizza can easily be made for a food cost of less than 30 percent. Many modifications can also be made with an additional toss of pine nuts or walnuts for a nice textural foil.
John Gutekanst owns Avalanche Pizza in Athens, Ohio and has a pizza blog called Pizza Goon. He is an award-winning pizzaiolo, baker, teacher, speaker and author.