Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pineapple vinegar

A while back I posted a recipe for Mexican pickled red onions. although I used cider vinegar, the traditional recipe calls for pineapple vinegar, which is a home-fermented vinegar made in Oaxaca. I was curious, so I searched for recipes online.

You'll find two kinds of recipes. One, pineapple-flavored vinegar, calls for steeping chunks of pineapple with spices in vinegar. While that sounded interesting, I was more drawn to the second type - which uses water, sugar, and natural wild yeasts to ferment pineapple rinds. I like recipes that use stuff you'd normally throw away.

The method is quite simple. After you take the rind off your pineapple - use the fruit for whatever you like - you put it with brown sugar and water into a big jar, and put it away in a dark cupboard. After a certain period of time, you take it out and strain it, then put it in bottles. After another amount of time, it's vinegar.

The only problem was - none of the recipes agreed with one another. Leave the jar covered with cheese-cloth or cap it? How long to leave it before straining - the recipes varied from a week to six weeks. Shake it up or leave it alone?

I decided to cover the jar with plastic wrap and then put the lid on - I didn't want fruit flies in my kitchen. I left it in a dark place for 18 days.

It didn't put off much of a smell - just a slight fruitiness when I opened the cupboard door.
When I finally took it out, the liquid was golden yellow. The pineapple rind stayed beneath the surface - some of the recipes warned of floating rind where mold formed on the exposed surface. That didn't happen to mine.

When I opened the cover, I could see white stuff floating on the top of the liquid.

I strained the pineapple and liquid first through a colander. A brownish-tan gunk that smelled like yeast collected at the bottom of the jar -this tan gunk and the white blobs are part of what's called the "mother" of the vinegar - a gloppy mass of yeast bacteria.

I strained the liquid again through a fine mesh strainer, and then again through a strainer lined with a double layer of paper towel.

Then I decanted it into clean bottles - I have one pretty stoppered bottle that originally held French Lemonade, and one that held prosecco.

I stoppered the bottles and, according to the recipes, put them back in the dark cupboard to ferment for another couple of weeks. Since I didn't have enough vinegar to fill the second bottle, I'm curious whether it will ferment more quickly, with more surface area exposed to the air.

I stuck my finger into the liquid and tasted it - it tasted pineapple-y and sour, but not really vinegary, not yet. The whole thing is an experiment now - I can always throw it away if it spoils.

If you want to try it yourself, here are three websites with information about making pineapple vinegar:

And here's an article by Paula Wolfert about homemade vinegar in general: The Virtue of Homemade Vinegar.

Give it a try! What can you lose?


smalltownme said...

I had a pineapple last week and was annoyed by how much I had to cut off and toss. Let us know when you use your vinegar.

Anonymous said...

I would worry about exploding bottles. I've heard horror stories of dandelion wine in the pantry... So I'm very interested on the outcome here with your pineapple vinegar!

Mingus said...

You are brilliant, G, and I love you.

Lisa Shafer said...

I've never heard of pineapple vinegar before.
However, this whole process sounds very much like a recipe for apple cider vinegar I found in a cookbook based on the Little House on the Prairie series.
Here's hoping it works out for you. Do let us know.