This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
(And see Fruit).
From the Ananas sativa, a native tropical tree in South America, the Pine-apple has been obtained. It is cultivated in England as a hot-house plant (formerly by few growers only, but now more commonly), whilst a large importation of the foreign fruit takes place. Fresh Pine-apple juice has been recently found to possess remarkable digestive powers as exercised upon animal food, similar to those of the gastric juice within the stomach. The active principle of the Pine-apple is "bromelin," which is potential enough to digest a thousand times its own weight of proteids within a few hours. Upon the coagulated white of egg the digestive process induced is slow; while on the albumin of meat its action is first to produce a pulpy, gelatinous mass, which after a time completely dissolves. When a slice of Pine-apple is placed upon a raw beef-steak, the surface of the fresh steak becomes gradually gelatinous, owing to the digestive action of the enzyme of the juice. An average Pine-apple will yield more than half a pint of juice.
The activity of this digestive agent becomes destroyed in a cooked Pine-apple; but there is no reason why the tinned fruit (unless prepared under heat) should not retain the said digestive power; of which the principle may be obtained from the juice by dissolving therein a liberal quantity of common salt; then a precipitate is obtained which includes the remarkable digestive agent; whilst the woody fibre, which is indigestible, should be rejected when eating Pine-apple, or expressing its juice. Pineapple juice from the ripe fruit is decidedly acid; its digestive principle, "bromelin," is very unstable, and therefore of limited commercial use; if applied to horny excrescences on the skin, such as corns, or warts, the fresh fruit juice is powerfully solvent; so that if a thin slice of Pine-apple be kept in close contact with a corn for eight hours the corn will become so soft as to admit of easy removal. The natives of Pine-apple-growing countries are found to derive much relief from the external application of the juice in cases of leprosy, and elephantiasis. The Pine-apple is pulled into pieces, and their fresh raw surfaces are rubbed over the affected parts of the skin.
Again, it is asserted that for breaking up, and resolving the tough membranous exudation which forms obstructively within a diphtheritic throat, nothing is so surely effectual as the juice squeezed from a ripe Pine-apple; by this means many a life has been saved. Three ounces of fresh Pine-apple juice will dissolve from ten to fifteen grains of albumin in four hours; on which principle the juice is employed in America for applying to the leathery false membranes which obstruct the throat in diphtheria; it is also anti-scorbutic, and excellent for other forms of sore throat.
The essential volatile oil of Pine-apple, on which its characteristic flavour depends, is chemically ethyl butyrate. This particular flavour is frequently imparted to rum as a spirit by adding some slices of Pine-apple; which special spirit through such chemical flavouring augments the amount of carbonic acid exhaled from the lungs, though all other alcoholic beverages retard such expiration. "This particular 'vanity' (as Mr. Stiggins denominated 'the liquor called rum') not being allowed to be sold in that 'ere establishment - the Fleet Prison, Clare Market, - Mrs. Weller recommended a bottle of Port wine, warmed with water, and with spice, and sugar, as being grateful to the stomach, and savouring less of 'vanity' than many other compounds." For "Rum Punch Syrup": "Take a quart of rum, half a pint of fresh lemon-juice, and two pounds of sugar (clarified); pour into this the lemon-juice, and stir it up until it simmers; then take the pan off the fire, and pour the syrup into a porcelain dish. When it is cold, add the rum, and stir well up, and put into bottles. This syrup keeps well.
Some of it can be made into Punch when required by adding a sufficient quantity of boiling water; or it may be mixed with tea".
Rum is a spirit much favoured in Yorkshire, particularly at funerals, when the "baked meats are coldly furnished forth".
'On the occasion of Ephraim Shackleton's wife's burial at Ling Crag "there was no stint of drink, or victuals at the Trawdon Inn. First, there was Rum for such as cared to take it; and the women - their faces showing red against black-bordered handkerchiefs - were no less willing than the men. Tongues began to wag; and the dead woman's virtues mellowed as the glasses went their round, and the hour for tea grew near. It was a gallant meal enough - ham, and cheese, and spiced loaf; strange cakes, of different shapes, and colours; mince-pies left over from the Christmas junketings; tea for the ostensible drink, but with it little pots of Rum that served as a second kind of cream for most of the sombre-gowned, bright company ' '(Through Sorrow's Gates, 1904).
A beef-meal powder, wherein the Pine-apple juice has pre-digested the beef to a considerable extent, is now an excellent, and reliable article of commerce for the invalid. Happily the ferment of Pine-apple, when acting upon animal substance digestively, does not cause any bitter by-products to be formed, so that the beef meal is of acceptable taste, as well as of high nutritive value. The solvent digestive powers of Pine-apple juice are efficient both in the acid stomach, and in the alkaline intestines, - that is, throughout the whole alimentary canal. A slice of fresh Pine-apple is about as wise a thing as one can take by way of dessert after a substantial meal. Nearly twenty-five million Pine-apples are marketed yearly in the United States, Cuba being the principal producer, Florida sending about half as many, and the Bahamas a considerable quantity. For Pine-apple jam: "Take equal weights of the fruit, and of sugar (making a syrup of this, - a cup of water to a cup of sugar); peel, and slice the Pine-apple, and preserve it in the syrup.
The juice of a lemon may be added after it is finished, which takes about three hours." Or, again: "Pare the fruit, and carefully take out the eyes; then grate it on a coarse grater, rejecting the cones; weigh it, and for each pound of fruit take a pound of sugar, sprinkling it over the grated Pines; then let it stand all night; in the morning boil for ten, or fifteen minutes over a quick fire; put into glass pots, and cover them when cool." For Pine-apple fingers, which are delicious (Dutch): "Bake a batch of slightly-sweetened midget milk rolls; chop off the end crust of each, hollowing out the interior; next take a tin of preserved Pine-apple, and chop the fruit up finely, picking out all the hard bits, or stringy fibres, and pound it to a pulp with a little thick cream, adding a tablespoonful of grated almonds to each teacupful of the paste. Fill the cases with this mixture; bind on the tops with a glue composed of the white of egg, and pile on a dish (decorated with a lace-edged d'oyley, and natural flowers)".
"When Alice" (in Wonderland) "popped into the Rabbit hole after the white Rabbit with pink eyes, she kept falling, falling, falling down a well ever so deep, until suddenly thump, thump, down she came upon a heap of sticks, and dry leaves, and the fall was over. On a three-legged glass table in a long, low hall lit by lamps she found a little bottle, round the neck of which was a paper label with the words ' drink me ' beautifully printed on it. The bottle was not marked ' poison,' so Alice ventured to taste it, and, finding it very nice (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry tart, custard, Pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast), she very soon finished it off".