The first pineapples were grown in England at Dorney Court, Dorney, in Buckinghamshire. In 1723, a huge “pineapple stove” was built at the Chelsea Physic Garden to heat the plants.
In 1733, a pineapple that had been grown at Versailles was given to King Louis XV in France. Before 1796, Catherine the Great consumed pineapples that she had grown on her own estates in Russia.
The pineapple became a symbol of wealth due to the high cost of equipment and labor required to grow them in greenhouses known as “pineries” in temperate climates and the high cost of direct importation. Instead of being eaten, they were initially displayed at dinner parties and used repeatedly until they began to rot.
For European glasshouse cultivation, many different varieties, mostly from the Antilles, were tested. The most significant was “Smooth Cayenne,” which was brought to France in 1820, re-exported to the UK in 1835, and then traveled to Australia and Africa via Hawaii from the UK. Smooth Cayenne” is currently the most widely produced cultivar worldwide.
From the beginning, pineapple-based sweets and jams were brought to Europe from the West Indies, Brazil, and Mexico. Fresh pineapples were brought directly from the West Indies in sufficient quantities to lower European prices by the beginning of the 19th century.