Waste reduction: Pineapple

I’m sure that everyone has a favorite pineapple recipe. Pineapple upside down cake, Humming Bird Bake, Carrot Cake (with or without is a huge debate, right?). Everyone knows what to do with the sweet yellow meat inside, but did you know that is just a fraction of what you can get out of your fresh pineapple?  

Usually, if I’m cutting a pineapple up, it’s to dehydrate pineapple circles or chunks. My husband likes it that way, it’s a quick easy snack, and it stores well.  I break the top off, slice the bottom off, and remove the skins. Then I slice it thin enough to use a small circular cookie cutter to remove the core. The core is tasty but fibrous and unpleasant to chew. So it goes with the skins.  I try to make circles purely out of vanity but it dries just fine in chunks and since it inevitably breaks apart, I get about 50-50.  Those get a gentle dry for 24-48 hours at 125-130oF  

Next, the crowns. If you are good with plants, you can set the crown in water and let it form roots and eventually you can plant it and get a pineapple plant. (https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/children/planting-pineapple-tops.htm ) I understand it might even bear fruit in a few years. Each plant makes one pineapple which can be harvested and then it makes a new one. 

This is another one of those surprise moments in my life. I don’t know why, but somehow I thought it grew hanging off a tree. But nope!  It grows one at a time from the center of a low reedy plant. Now you know!  

However I’m not very good at plants. I would tell you I have a brown thumb, but it’s a lie. I have a black thumb. Young plants look at me and get so depressed they suicide. I seem to do ok with trimming well established plants, and with maintaining plants that like to take over housekeeping if left unattended. (Because between my anti-plant mojo and their excessive growth, we reach a detente and they don’t die but also don’t overdo it. My mint is 2 years in and still struggling for a foothold and I think it might be dying). 

With that admission out of the way, what I am good at is kitchening.  After killing 2 attempts at growing pineapples from a crown I went looking for a recipe and it turns out that pineapple leaves actually make a delicious tea.  I started just tossing the crown in a pot and adding water but I found I get a better tea if I take the time to pull the crown apart and even cut the leaves up  I usually boil them several times until the resulting tea weakens and then I blend them in water and make a final pot, straining it through a nut milk bag to get the last of the nutrients and flavor out.  

The result is a slightly sweet, slightly grassy infusion. If you go use Google, you will find reports that it cures a whole list of stuff and also refuting articles.  None of them are peer reviewed so try it and see what you think. Mostly, it’s tasty and you get another use from the leaves. They are also used to make a paper like product and as reinforcing fibers in some industrial fabrics. YMMV but it’s easy to make this tasty tea in your kitchen before you compost. 

On to the scrap skins and cores. There are a lot of uses out there (https://hubpages.com/politics/pineapple-skin-uses). You can boil them for a sweeter version of the tea, you can dehydrate for potpourri, it’s good for body cate (scrubs and food softening because of the Bromelain) but my go to is tepache, which is a Mexican fermented pineapple beverage. You can also make pineapple vinegar, and honestly, the difference between tepache and pineapple vinegar can really be a matter of getting busy for a few weeks and finding your tepache too late- after its past tangy and bubbly and moved on to acetic acid and all pucker. To me, this is a no lose situation. Either I get a tasty fermented beverage or I get flavorful vinegar for pickles or dressings. 

To make Tepache, (https://www.mexicoinmykitchen.com/homemade-pineapple-brew/ ) you throw the skins and cores in with spices (cinnamon and cloves but make you your own blend for sure) and brown sugar water and wait. 

For fun, I used a skull shaped jug and it looks very creepy. 

I like to take it to the next step so I will often save the pulp and skin from the tepache to use in fruit leather. I’ve been continuously brewing tepache for almost a year now and I have developed a SCOBY disk in there, which is sort of exciting. Some of the microbes might be voluntary transfers from my kombucha, and some are from the pineapple or ambient air.  The acidity in the culture helps protect it from bad microbes. Only a small amount of the fermented pulp can be used because it’s fibrous but I like to think it adds a punch of nutrients and sharpness to the fruit leather. Fermentation is great!  It really adds a lot of micronutrients and vitamins, and if you are consuming directly, it’s going to go colonize your gut an improve your gut health. 

Now the tepache is fine for drinking, and some might find the vinegar acceptable for an occasional vinegar shot, but it’s really too sharp for me, so I used it in sweet pickles. I can’t do anything the easy way so I converted this recipe from a recipe for pineapple vinegar jimica.  They are refrigerator pickles and I haven’t tweaked the recipe for canning so don’t do it. (I’ve learned a lot and there are some things that have to happen to make canning for room temp storage safe. One critical thing is using a recipe that is safety tested). 

Pineapple Pickled Cactus nopales 

Prep 10 min ∙ Cook 5 min


  • catus pads (nopales)
  • 8 Cups of pineapple Vinegar (from tepache)
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c salt
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 Whole Star Anise
  • 3 Cloves
  • 3-5 Sprigs of aromatic herb (mint, cilantro, etc.)(optional)


1. Chop nopales into spears 

2. Add vinegar, sugar, salt and spices to a pot and and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Place nopales spears in a mason jar. Pour hot pickling liquid into the jar. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 day before tasting.

What is your favorite (weird or not) use for pineapple? 


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