If you have been reading my blog for very long you already know that one of my grandsons lovingly dubbed me a witch because there is always something fermenting, brewing or steeping somewhere in my house. Today I want to tell you about my current fermentation: pineapple vinegar. This “secret ingredient” is a favorite in many Mexican homes and is called vinagre de pina. Not only is it delicious and healthful, it is easy-peasy to make!
I try to use every bit of food that enters my household. In my “snout-to-tail” mentality I do things like save onion peels (yes those flaky brown things) and rotisserie chicken carcasses to make stock. I use fruit peels and seeds to make jelly like I did here. Recently, we picked our precious homegrown pineapple. After cutting it up for Mr. M, I just could not bring myself to throw away any part of it. The top is happily growing roots to make a new plant and now, the peel (yes the bumpy outside part) is fermenting into a delicious vinegar. Here’s how I do it:
It is best to use an organic pineapple or one lovingly grown at home like ours. After carefully washing and peeling, coarsely chop the outside peel and core from one pineapple. I didn’t use the core from ours because it is tender enough to eat. Place the chopped peel in a large, clean jar.
Add about a half cup of sugar for every 2 quarts of filtered water . Do not use artificial sweeteners or stevia. You are making a ferment and the sugar feeds the necessary bacteria. I used piloncillo, pronounced pee-lon-SEE-yoh, a Mexican form of pure unrefined cane sugar. It is also called panela. The sugar is formed into little cones or cakes and is dry on the outside. To use it, I grate it.
I prefer piloncillo because it has a much deeper taste, somewhat similar to brown sugar and it retains the minerals that occur naturally in the sugar cane.You can usually find piloncillo, or panela, in any market that carries Hispanic foods. Mine came from our local Walmart.
Layer the fruit and sugar in your jar and add enough room temperature, filtered water to cover it all. Be sure to leave a little room at the top to keep your ferment from overflowing the jar.
You might notice that there are some apple chunks in there. They are not necessary at all, it is just that I had an apple that was getting kind of wrinkly so I peeled cored, and chopped it to add to the ferment. Waste not, want not!
Cover the jar with a cloth or coffee filter. Don’t use a tight lid. A fermentation is a living thing and needs air. Do make the cover bug proof by using a rubber band or like I do: use a half gallon canning jar and its ring with an old piece of birdseye towel. I put the piece of towel over the jar opening then I screw the jar ring on.
Set the jar in a warm place and let it ferment. You can stir it occasionally, or do what I do and just peek at it occasionally to be sure it isn’t doing anything unwanted like overflowing.
After a few days it will smell kind of alcoholic, because it is. It is pineapple wine. Let it ferment a bit longer, say two to six weeks, the wine will sour (after all, the word vinegar is from the French vin aigre, or sour wine). and what you have is pineapple vinegar!
How do you know when it is ready? Dip up a bit with a clean spoon and taste it. Oh, and I should tell you this: don’t faint if a rubbery disc forms on the top of your ferment. In fact, you could celebrate. That rubbery disc is called a Mother and is very desirable. When you want to make another batch of vinegar you can just slip your Mother into some sugar water and she will make more pineapple vinegar. Amazing! However, if your ferment develops any type of mold or fuzzy stuff, discard it and start over! Take no chances with strange beings!
Pineapple vinegar is a flavorful substitute for apple cider vinegar. It is a great addition to salads, cooked vegetables, soups and fruit drinks. A tasty beverage can be made using pineapple vinegar, honey and water: just add ice! There are many health benefits to adding vinegar, especially, homemade vinegar to your diet. Pineapple vinegar and honey can be mixed together and taken for a sore throat, cough or cold. A delicious medicine!
Please try this and let me know if you do. You won’t be sorry! Make it and eat it!