How to Can Pineapple At Home
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Learn how to can pineapple at home with a water bath canner. Have your own home-canned pineapple ready to use on pizzas, in sauces, smoothies and desserts, or to eat straight out of the jar with a spoon!
When I was a little girl, I once famously asked my mother “mom, in the olden days, when you were young, were there pirates?” While I’ve never lived that one down, my mom did love to regale me with stories about what life was like when she was growing up, many of which may as well have started with “once upon a time.”
She told me about how she and her friends played in the bushes around her neighbourhood from dawn until dusk, never once with a parent helicoptering nearby. She told me about her first memory of colour TV and what a turning point it was when she first saw Dorothy step out of the black and white world of Kansas and into the technicolour land of Oz. And she told me lots of stories about the foods that my grandmother cooked and the things you could and couldn’t get at the grocery store back then. My how things have changed since the olden days!
One of the things I remember her telling me was that, back in the 50s and 60s when she was growing up, it was very rare to find fresh fruits and vegetables out of season. It was equally rare, she said, to see fresh exotic fruits in the produce section at the grocery store.
While she does remember having access to a few fruits like apples, oranges and bananas pretty much year-round, she said she never had an avocado when she was young, didn’t even know what a mango was and had only ever had commercially-canned pineapple.
We take for granted how lucky we are nowadays that we not only have access to all sorts of fresh fruits and veggies that were practically unheard of just a few decades ago, but we have access to them pretty much all year round!
Still, every fruit that hits shelves at the grocery store has a growing season just like the ones we grow close to home, and they’re typically cheaper and more readily available when they’re in season. That’s why I like to stock up on these fruits when they’re abundant and cheap and can them myself at home for use throughout the year.
One of my favourite things to can at home is pineapple. While pineapples grow year-round in Hawaii (and can be grown in many other areas as well), the peak growing season is from March to July, so that’s when you tend to see the best prices at the grocery store. Again, not always, but that’s what I’ve noticed where I live. You need to know your prices and what’s a good deal for where you live as it will likely be much different from where I live. Here, a good deal on a fresh pineapple is about $3.00 for a large fruit, so when they hit the $3.00 mark (or below, although rare), that’s when I stock up.
Now, you might wonder why I would bother canning my own pineapple when I could just as easily (perhaps more easily) buy it already canned from the grocery store. Valid question. My mother asked me the same thing.
Why Can Pineapple At Home?
You see, back when my mom was a little girl, commercially canned produce was all the rage. And pineapple was no exception. In fact, in the 50s and 60s, canned pineapple was a staple in American cooking and baking and can be found in all sorts of recipes from this era (I should know as I’ve inherited all of my grandmother’s cookbooks).
But in those days you had to buy it commercially canned because you couldn’t buy it fresh to can it yourself. Plus, the western world had recently come out of World War II and had entered the era of convenience and processed foods; Something many of us are now trying to leave behind us as we get back to our pioneering roots.
And so that sums up one reason why I like to home-can my own fresh pineapple: I like to combine the old ways of doing things (ie. home canning) with new technologies and modern-day access to goods (like fresh pineapple). It’s just part of the homesteader spirit in me.
But there are other reasons too; Important reasons that are near and dear to my heart…
Health & Environmental Benefits of Canning Pineapple At Home
One other reason why I like to can my own fruit and veggies at home is for health reasons. By preparing and canning my produce at home, I can control exactly what’s in each jar and that gives me peace of mind when I serve it to my family.
I make my home-canned pineapple with lightly sweetened syrup, which means it has less sugar than its commercially canned counterpart. I can also be sure there’s no corn syrup or corn-based glucose/fructose in my canned pineapple as corn is a highly genetically modified crop and I like to steer clear of corn byproducts like these.
Canning my own pineapple also means I get to use the rest of the pineapple! How, you ask? Well, I can either compost it and add it to my garden, or I juice the rind. I own the best juicer in the whole world (in my humble opinion), the Breville Juicer Fountain Juicer Multi-Speed, and it works great for juicing pineapple with the skin on. But you can also make juice by cooking down the pineapple rinds in some water on your stovetop.
I always wash my pineapples really well and scrub the skin, then I throw the scraps in my juicer and juice them with the pineapple flesh that is leftover and still stuck to the skin. Drinking the pineapple juice with the skin/rind is especially good for you as the skin is actually said to be more nutritious than the pineapple flesh itself!
Pineapple skin is high in many vitamins and nutrients such as bromelain, potassium and beta carotene that help with everything from inflammation and speeding up metabolism to eliminating parasites, preventing heart disease, curing respiratory problems and even preventing the development of cancer cells! You don’t get that with your store-bought canned pineapple!
Last but not least, canning my own pineapple helps me cut down on waste as I’m reusing my own jars instead of disposing of new ones. This is super important to me as I and my family strive to leave a lighter footprint on this planet and live a more sustainable lifestyle. Anything that is good for the planet is good for us too, so this is always a bonus if not a motivating factor for cooking and preserving at home and DIY-ing.
I’m sure I could think of even more reasons why I prefer to home-can rather than buy store-bought, but that should suffice for now. If you’re not convinced yet then I’m not sure you’ve come to the right place! But if you’ve read this far, I’m gonna go ahead and assume you’re down with canning up some of your own fresh pineapple too. So let’s get to it!
How to Can Pineapple At Home
First, wash those skins good so you can juice ‘em! Plus, I just like to make sure everything I’m working with when I’m cooking and preserving is as clean and sterile as possible. I don’t wash with soap, but I do give the skins a good scrub and rinse under cold running water.
Second, cut off the top and bottom of the pineapple (I just discard these parts in my compost). Then cut off the skins and any tough, knobby bits until you’re left with nice, clean pineapple flesh.
Related: How to Can Blueberry Pie Filling
Next, core the pineapple. If you are canning pineapple rounds, you will either need a pineapple corer or you can cut the pineapple into rounds and use a small round cookie cutter to cut out the core from each piece (or you can use this beauty to core and peel your pineapple for you). I’m not that fancy, so I just can pineapple chunks.
To cut a pineapple into chunks, cut the pineapple lengthwise down the middle and carve a “V” into each half of the pineapple around where the core is to cut out the hard core. Then slice the flesh that’s leftover into chunks and set aside.
Next, prepare your canner, jars and lids. Pineapples are a high-acid fruit so they can be safely canned in a water bath (as opposed to pressure canning). Make sure jars don’t have any nicks or cracks in them (I’ve lost jars and their contents in the canner this way). Wash jars and bands with hot soapy water, rinse them and pop them in your canner full of water. Heat them to sterilize them. You don’t need to boil, just bring water to a simmer hot enough that steam is evaporating. Get your lids out and ready. The bands can be reused, but always use new lids when canning to ensure a proper seal. Leave jars in canner until they’re ready to be filled.
Now it’s time to start preparing your syrup. While it’s possible to can pineapple in water alone to completely eliminate sugar, sugar helps to preserve the taste and texture of the fruit, so I do use a little bit when canning. I buy this organic cane sugar (I usually buy it from Costco) as it’s less refined and works just as well 🙂
In a large, stainless steel pot, combine one cup of sugar with 5 cups of water and bring to a boil, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves. Turn heat down to medium-low and add pineapple chunks to the syrup. Heat thoroughly.
Use a slotted spoon to pack hot pineapple into jars leaving a generous ½ inch of headspace. Then ladle hot syrup over pineapple leaving ½ inch headspace in each jar.
Remove any air bubbles by running a butter knife or a canning ruler along the inside “edge” of the jar. Adjust headspace if needed, then wipe rim, place lids on top and screw bands on.
Place jars in canner so they’re completely submerged in water and bring to a boil. Process pint jars for 15 minutes or quart jars for 20.
Once time is up, turn off heat, remove canner lid and let cool for 5 minutes. Then, remove from water and allow to cool completely before storing.
Et voilà! You’ve got yourself some home canned pineapple to put up in your pantry, prepared and ready to add to everything from ham and pineapple pizzas to ham roasts to pineapple upside down cakes to the slurry of other canning recipes that -ironically enough- call for canned pineapple. (I guess those recipes are from the olden days, when my mom was young;).
All kidding aside, I shouldn’t mock my mom. After all, I’m a mom and I’m now “old” now too. And the older I get, the more I find myself nostalgic for simpler times like my own mother grew up in. I only wish I could let my children roam the neighbourhood without worry. I LOVE watching old black and white movies and pretending for just a while that I live in a bygone era. But one thing I am glad I don’t have to live with is commercially canned produce. Not that I don’t love me some canned goods, but I personally would rather do the canning myself:)
Canning tools I use and love:
- Canning Funnel
- Canning Scoop
- Jar Lifter
- Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (this recipe is adapted from this book)
- 12 lbs pineapple (approx. 6 large pineapples peeled, cored & cut into chunks)
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 cups water
- Prepare water bath canner, jars and lids. Wash jars and bands with hot, soapy water, then place in water bath canner and bring water to a simmer to sterilize jars. Leave jars in canner until ready to fill. Always use new lids when canning (bands can be reused).
- In a large, stainless steel pot, combine 1 cup sugar with 5 cups water. Bring to a boil and stir constantly until dissolved. Reduce heat to medium low.
- Add pineapple chunks to syrup. Heat thoroughly (about 30 seconds per pound).
- Use a slotted spoon to pack hot pineapple chunks into jars, leaving a generous ½ inch headspace. Then ladle hot syrup into jars, covering pineapple chunks, leaving ½ inch headspace.
- Remove any air bubbles by running a butter knife along the inside of the jar. Adjust headspace if necessary. Wipe rim, place lids on top, screw bands on and place in the canner, ensuring that jars are completely submerged in water.
- Bring water to a boil and process pint jars for 15 minutes or quart jars for 20 minutes. Once time is up, turn heat off, remove canner lid, let sit for 5 minutes and then remove and let cool completely before storing in a cool, dark place.
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