Pineapple Vinegar—Be Sweet, Stand Tall, & Wear a Crown
I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with making different vinegars. Who knew it was going to be this addictive?!?! It started out with apples, then red wine, and champagne. They’ve all turned out phenomenal and it’s a great way to reduce food waste. The apple cider vinegar uses the leftover core of apples we eat (we cut the apple off the core), red wine vinegar is made from corked wine, which we sometimes encounter and used to just pour down the drain, and champagne vinegar was made from a leftover bottle of champagne after a party.
A month or so ago I had cut up a pineapple to make Alan’s favorite, Pineapple Un-Fried Rice, and was just about to scrape the rind and core into my kitchen compost pail when I thought, “What could I do with this rather than just composting it?” Then it occurred to me that maybe I could turn it into vinegar, using the same technique I use to transform apple cores into vinegar.
So I tried it, and it’s fantastic! Here’s what you do:
Pick a ripe organic pineapple
Finding a ripe pineapple can be intimidating for folks, so here’s what I learned from a pineapple grower in Hawaii one time I was visiting. Pick up the pineapple, turn it upside down, and smell the stem end—it should smell like a deliciously ripe pineapple! If there’s no scent, smells fermented or already vinegary, or if that stem end is all moldy, it’s not a pineapple you want.
Because you’re using the outer skin of the pineapple, make sure to get an organic one to avoid pesticides.
Snap off the top and cut up your pineapple
I break off the green top of the pineapple to start, it’s habit. I had a cat who was obsessed with pineapple tops, and I mean obsessed! If I had a pineapple in my kitchen, whether he saw me bring it in or not (I think he could smell it), he would jump up on the counter (a big no-no) and start chewing those hard, spiky fronds. It was like he was possessed. He didn’t care that chewing on the pineapple top cut the heck out of his little mouth, gums, and lips! So to save him from himself, I simply snapped off the tops to my pineapples when I brought them into the house. Even though Mick is in kitty heaven now, I still catch myself breaking off the tops of my pineapples as soon as I get home!
Next cut the top and bottom off of your pineapple to give yourself a firm base. Set it upright on your cutting board and using a sharp knife, cut down the sides to remove the peel. Once all of the peel is removed, slice the pineapple in quarters lengthwise from top to bottom. Now you can slice lengthwise to cut the hard center core out of each quarter. Keep all of your peels and cores for making vinegar and enjoy the delicious pineapple as a snack or for some other recipe.
If you have one of those handy-dandy pineapple corer/slicers, you can use it instead. Just cut off the top of the pineapple and use the slicer to cut and remove the cored pineapple rings for another purpose.
Make up a sugar water solution
Put 3/4 cup of sugar in a saucepan and add 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat. Let the sugar water cool to room temperature.
Put it all together
Put your pineapple scraps into the jar—you don’t even have to cut them up—and pour the sugar solution over the top. You want enough solution to fully cover the scraps when they are submerged so that the pineapple is not exposed to air. The pineapple will mold if exposed to air and you don’t want that.
Add a weight
Next, add a weight to fully submerge the scraps. I use a lidded pint canning jar full of water as it fits perfectly into the big gallon jar, but you can also use a fermentation weight. If your scraps pop out from beneath the weight, you can place several wide-mouth canning lids on the top of the scraps to cover and then put the full pint jar on top of the lids. I use this method when making apple cider vinegar as the apple scraps are small and tend to pop out and float to the surface otherwise.
Press down on the weight (jar or fermentation weight) to express all the air and fully submerge the scraps.
Cover and let the scraps ferment
You can use cheesecloth, but I simply use a flour sack towel to cover the top of the jar and secure with a rubber band. This keeps flies out. I prefer a towel because it’s reusable and long enough to cover the jar and keep light out.
Place the covered jar in a dark, room temperature location, in something to catch any liquid that might overflow out during the fermentation process. I put mine in my pantry and cover with a towel to keep out the light.
Check your jars every day or so, making sure scraps are staying under the solution. Pull out any scraps or moldy bits on the surface and gently push on the weights to circulate the solution.
I’ve found that pineapple ferments really rapidly, much faster than apples. I think this is due to the rough surface of the pineapple peel containing lots of natural microorganisms that aid in fermentation. Continue fermenting for about a week. You can taste it every day and see how it’s doing, just use a clean spoon or baster to pull some of the liquid off to try.
The fermented pineapple scrap solution is really yummy, fizzy like soda, and is known as Tepache, a popular drink in parts of Mexico and South America. A friend of mine makes this, drinking it after about 24-48 hours of fermentation before it turns to vinegar. Do note, because it is fermented, this drink does have some alcohol in it.
Drain off the solids
After a week, drain the solution through a colander and pour back into your gallon jar. The solution will have turned from clear to a pale yellow, like pineapple juice! Put the discarded peels and cores in your compost or worm bin.
You can let this ferment into vinegar like this or, what I prefer to do, add a mother produced from a previous batch of vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar (or from a bottle of commercial apple cider vinegar with the mother in it, like Bragg’s). Adding a mother speeds up the vinegar-making process. I keep the mothers created by my batches of vinegar in a lidded jar with a little apple cider vinegar in it so I can use them in later batches.
Cover and ferment into vinegar
Put the cheesecloth or towel back on the top of the jar and put it back into the dark, room temperature location. It will take about a month for the vinegar to fully form. Taste it every few days until it’s at your liking.
Strain and bottle
When the vinegar is ready, simply strain, store the vinegar mother in another container if you’d like, and bottle.
This vinegar is amazing! It has all the wonderful tastes and aromas of fresh pineapple, with a vinegary kick. The color is gorgeous as well, a lovely yellow reminiscent of pineapple juice. It is wonderful to use on salads, especially fruit salads. Use it when making salad dressings when you want a tropical flavor. It is also great when making your favorite Sweet-and-Sour Sauce! Chef AJ has a great recipe for coleslaw dressing using pineapple vinegar, which this is delicious in! Check it out:
Today I demonstrate the BEST coleslaw I ever ate, and I don’t even like coleslaw!!! And by making the “mayo” out of cauliflower, you can sneak in even more n…
Homemade pineapple vinegar makes a wonderful hostess gift as well. It’s something you won’t generally find in a grocery store, so it’s particularly unique. At one time, pineapples were the quintessential hostess gift, as they were quite rare and thus was a symbol of one’s rank in society. Pineapples were food for royalty and the wealthy. We are fortunate to have them in abundance today.
I hope you try making this delicious vinegar. It is a great way to use all of the goodness of a precious pineapple, especially the flavorful, juicy bits that are left on the peel when you trim the fruit. It doesn’t take long to put a batch together, using just some water and sugar—nature does the rest of the work for you while you wait. In a few weeks, you’ll have vinegar fit for queens and kings!
Please let me know if you make pineapple vinegar! I’m excited to hear how you’ll use it.
And stay tuned for a berry good vinegar!
- Scraps from 1 organic pineapple peel and core
- 6 cups water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Add your scraps to a clean, wide-mouthed, non-metallic vessel, filling it 1/2 to 3/4 full.
- Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar and let cool to room temperature.
- Pour the sugar solution over the scraps to completely cover the scraps, but don't fill the jar, you'll need the room for solution displaced when you add weight to hold down the scraps.
- Make more solution with a 1/2 cup sugar to 1 quart water ratio if you need more to cover.
- Use a fermentation weight or make something to weigh down the scraps in the solution, such as a lidded jar full of water. Push down on the weight so that the scraps are fully submerged by the solution. Add more solution or water if you have space left in your jar.
- Cover the top of the vessel with cheesecloth, coffee filter, or flour sack towel and use a rubberband to hold it in place.
- Put your jars in a dark, room temperature location, in something to catch any liquid that might overflow out during the fermentation process. Cover with a towel to keep out the light.
- Check your jars every couple of days, making sure scraps are staying under the solution. Pull out any moldy scraps on the surface and gently push on the weights to circulate the solution.
- Continue this for 1 week to let it ferment and then strain your mixture.
- Pour the solution into a clean, non-metallic jar. Put your covering back on top, secure with a rubberband, and return to the spot you were fermenting in. Stir every few days.
- It will take another 3-4 weeks for the mixture to turn into vinegar. Smell and taste the solution to determine when it’s the tartness you want and that no alcohol remains.
- Transfer to a smaller, narrow neck bottle and seal tightly to keep from oxidizing.
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Cindy wants you to be Trimazing—three times better than amazing! After improving her health and fitness through plant-based nutrition, losing 60 pounds and becoming an adult-onset athlete, she retired from her 20-year firefighting career to help people just like you. She works with people and organizations so they can reach their health and wellness goals.
Cindy Thompson is a certified Health Coach, Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, and Firefighter Peer Fitness Trainer. She is a Food for Life Instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Rouxbe Plant-Based Professional, and Harvard Medical School Culinary Coach, teaching people how to prepare delicious, satisfying, and health-promoting meals.
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