The first sign said "wild Chamomile", the second sign said "pineapple weed". Alex stopped and scratched his head. "What the heck is that stuff?" I was examining strawberries and he took off to confer with the lady presiding over the the bushy looking bunches of petal-less yellow flowers, with relatively thick stalks and small, pointed fern-like leaves. As he talked, I saw him pick up a bunch and give it a sniff. It was all over in that brief second and before I could blink he bounced back triumphantly bearing his scraggy looking bouquet.
"Smell this!" he exclaimed, pushing the buds beneath my nose. The scent was arresting, herbal and vegetal with a definite undertone of...pineapple. There was definitely something worth pursuing here, the only question was what to do with the sorry looking things.
Pineapple weeds are low growing plants that resemble Mayweed Chamomile in appearance and are notable for their distinctive pineapple scent. They are a summer annual which flower from May through August. According to the vendor, the leaves and the buds are edible although for our purposes we stuck to the tender, cone shaped buds. It grows well in compacted, dusty soil and can often be found at the edges of gravel parking lots and along well trodden sandy beaches. The seeds require fine soil and sunlight to germinate. The plants are generally no higher than five inches although in ideal situations they have been known to grow up to twelve inches high.
The buds themselves are about the size of a #2 pencil eraser. We cooked them briefly in a syrup of water, agave nectar and a pinch of salt to sweeten, tenderize, and bring our that pineapple aroma. The flavor is delicate and ethereal, bringing to mind a juicy bite of pinapple consumed in a humid rainforest. These buds need a a strong yet delicate touch to really highlight their true potential.