Why This Recipe Works
- Pineapple cores are acidic enough to dissolve up to half their weight in sugar, imparting a strong flavor and vivid color without any added water, flavoring, or dye.
- A single lemon rind balances the natural sweetness of pineapple.
- The molasses-y notes in raw or semi-refined sugars add complementary complexity to the tropical fruit.
- Nonreactive equipment keeps the syrup's flavor clean and fresh.
Pineapple isn't exactly a summer fruit, but pineapple upside-down cake was such a staple of the cookouts, neighborhood potlucks, and Fourth of July picnics of my childhood that I start craving pineapple whenever the weather turns warm. Especially in the form of tropical drinks, ice cream, and sorbet.
Which is to say, I go through a lot of pineapple at home each summer. And, whether I'm making a sweet or savory pineapple recipe, there's one irritating constant: the waste. I'm not much of a smoothie gal, so the common solution of dicing a pineapple core to freeze and purée won't do the trick for me. Instead, I've adapted my technique for no-cook lemon syrup to help use up my pineapple scraps.
So far, this aromatic syrup has fueled a cocktail renaissance at home, taking the place of simple syrup in all my favorite drinks, but it's just as handy for a pineapple-spiked limeade, or as a tropical touch for waffles.
The rough texture of the pineapple skin itself makes it impossible to clean, and thus an all-too-ready source of dirt and debris that have no place in a raw syrup. But the next time you trim a whole pineapple, save the core and pips—those little eyelets carved out after peeling.
Dice the core into small pieces, and add it to a medium bowl with the pips and a diced lemon or lime carcass (i.e., an empty rind left over from juicing). Next, add sugar. White sugar is fine if you want a super-clean pineapple flavor, but in this application I'm all about the complexity of raw or semi-refined sugars, like jaggery, turbinado, or Demerara. Their molasses-y notes call to mind dark rum, a natural match for pineapple, rounding out the syrup's floral sweetness. (For a deeper dive into the options and flavor profiles at hand, check out our guide to raw sugar.)
If the sugar isn't granular (or if the grain size is large and coarse), give it a whirl in a food processor so it dissolves more readily.
Cover the bowl tightly, and let the fruit stand until the sugar has completely disappeared. This will take about four hours if you give the fruit a stir or a shake every hour or so to ensure that all the sugar dissolves. I tend to take a more passive approach, leaving the bowl of fruit off to the side all day or overnight, and then straining it off whenever it suits me.
Since this recipe is designed to manage the scraps of a single pineapple, the yield is fairly low: just half a cup of thick syrup. But, of course, if you have an occasion to cut up several pineapples, the batch size can be multiplied accordingly.
For an easy summer drink, pour a little syrup over ice and top it off with a squeeze of lime and club soda to taste. Or use it in place of simple syrup in your favorite rum cocktails (it makes an absolutely killer daiquiri).
You can also use it in place of lemon syrup as a sweetener for whipped cream, candied nuts, and whipped Greek yogurt—or just pour it over your next batch of banana-stuffed French toast.
Fresh Pineapple Syrup Recipe
Use your pineapple scraps to make a sweet, tropical syrup.
6 ounces diced pineapple core and pips (about 2/3 cup; 170g), from 1 medium pineapple
3 ounces (85g) "used" lemon or lime (the leftover rind after juicing), diced, from 1 medium citrus
4 1/2 ounces raw or semi-raw sugar (about a heaping 1/2 cup; 115g), such as jaggery, turbinado, Demerara, or palm sugar (see note)
Toss the pineapple and lemon rind with the sugar in a large glass, ceramic, or stainless steel mixing bowl. Cover tightly and let stand at room temperature, stirring once every 45 minutes or so, until sugar has completely dissolved, about 4 hours (or up to 12 hours if timing is an issue).
Strain fruit scraps through a fine-mesh stainless steel strainer set over a nonreactive bowl, pressing and mashing on the fruit with a flexible spatula to extract as much syrup as possible; discard scraps. Use immediately or refrigerate syrup for up to 3 months in a glass bottle or pint jar.
If the raw sugar is not in granular form, or if the crystals are especially large and coarse, grind the sugar in a food processor until the grain size is quite fine.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 29g||11%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 29g|
|Vitamin C 2mg||8%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|