The way Azores pineapples are grown is unique. Originating in Central and South America, pineapples were brought to the Azores for the first time in the mid-19th century. During the second half of the 19th century, the island’s main crop – oranges – was attacked by disease, leading many landowners to look for a replacement as a source of income. The pineapple was chosen to take the place of the orange, and by the turn of the 20th century, had become the island’s main export crop. The way the São Miguel pineapple is grown is a living example of and tribute to man's ingenuity and inventiveness. They are grown in whitewashed glass greenhouses using the so-called “hot-bed” method, which seeks to recreate the natural conditions that are typical of the fruit’s naturally humid and hot climate.
The greenhouses are rectangular-shaped wood and glass structures with two planting beds separated by a stone path. The soil in the beds is prepared using a process known as “hot beds”, in which a mixture of earth and organic matter enriches the soil, and where irrigation and natural decomposition create the temperatures inside the greenhouse that are necessary for the plant to grow and bear fruit naturally.
About 4 months after being planted, the “smoking” process begins. This operation, which was discovered accidentally, intoxicates the plant and forces them all to bloom simultaneously. At the end of each day, chips and leaves are burned in their own containers to produce a thick smoke that fills the entire greenhouse. The next day, the windows are opened to let the smoke out. This operation continues for eight to ten days, depending on the season. The complete life cycle of the São Miguel pineapple crop takes 18 to 24 months, resulting in a fruit of unique characteristics and recognised quality.