Pineapple is naturally high in both sugar and acid, making it perfect for canning at home. But why on earth would you can pineapple? Most of us are not exactly growing it in the backyard, and it’s easy enough to buy at the store. One word…taste.
Home canned pineapple tastes amazing, and you’ll never want to use watery, flavorless store-bought cans again.
Beyond taste, canned pineapple is a great way to take advantage of sale produce. Midwinter, pineapples are dirt cheap. Up here in Vermont, they’re usually $4 to $5 each, or around $7 for organic. In January, they drop to $1 to $1.50 each! You can buy a whole case for a 5 spot and can it up at home to use all year long.
Start by peeling the pineapple. Chop off the top and bottom of the pineapple, and then use a chefs knife to slice vertically down the sides, removing the peel and spines.
You can save the peels to make homemade tepache (a South American pineapple drink) or ferment them into pineapple vinegar. Waste not, want not.
The cores are full of flavor, but they’re tough and fibrous. Slice out the cores and save them to the side. We’ll use them to make pineapple juice and can the pineapple in its own juice. That makes for much more flavorful canned pineapple, without added sugar.
Chop the pineapple into pieces. Large chunks work, or I prefer smaller chunks because they’ll be ready to top a pizza for a quick weeknight dinner. You can also mince them very small for crushed pineapple, and use it in carrot cake or hummingbird cake.
Pineapple can be raw packed or hot packed into jars for home canning. That means that you can either put the pineapple chunks directly into the jars raw, or you can simmer the pineapple for 10 or so minutes on the stovetop and pack it into jars hot. Either way is perfectly fine and safe.
Raw packing has the advantage of being quick and easy. Stuff the pineapple into jars, and cover with boiling water, juice or syrup. Lid up and can them in a water bath canner. The downside is that with a raw pack, your food may discolor after a few months in the jars. Fruit, pineapple in particular, has a lot of air inside it’s structure. Some estimate that air can be as much as 30% of the total volume. When you pack it raw, that air stays inside the canning jar and will cause the food to discolor over time, and can impact flavor.
Hot packing is supposed to yield a better result for pineapple in particular, according to the University of Alaska Cooperative Extension. If you’re hot packing, simmer the pineapple in your canning liquid of choice (water, juice or syrup) for 10 minutes before packing into jars. This drives off the extra air in the pineapple and ensures a better-finished product.
I’ve had great results with a raw pack, and packing hot pineapple into jars can be messy. It’s also hard to stuff the jars completely full when you’re dealing with hot pineapple and syrup together. I haven’t had issues with discoloration, but they never last more than a few months in my pantry.
Choose what’s best for you, but know that if you’re planning for long term preservation, hot pack is a better choice.
Choices for Canning Liquid
With pineapple, you have a lot of choices for canning liquid.
- Juice – Pineapple, apple or grape
- Extra light syrup, light syrup or medium syrup
You can just simply pack the pineapple into the water, but that’s going to cause a lot of the pineapple flavor to leach out into the water. Juice, such as pineapple juice, apple juice or grape juice also work. I avoid using syrup because pineapple is sweet enough. Canning it in syrup makes it over the top sweet, and it doesn’t taste like fruit anymore (to me anyway).
If you do choose to use syrup, here is how to calculate the added sugar for each type.
The first time I canned pineapple, I bought a jar of pineapple juice. That stuff is expensive, about $7 per bottle, which increased the cost substantially. The second time, I tried running a pineapple through my home juicer. It worked well, and the yield was high. I only needed to juice 1 pineapple for every 4 I wanted to can.
This time, I tried another method. I boiled the pineapple cores in water, which extracted the pineapple flavor and a lot of the sugars. I didn’t have to sacrifice a pineapple to the juicer, and I still got the same pineapple flavor. Simmer the chopped pineapple cores in water for about 10 minutes, and then strain out the cores.
I found that I needed about 1/3 of a cup of added liquid for each half-pint jar, and each pineapple yielded roughly 5 to 6 half pints. Estimate that you’ll need 2 to 2.5 cups of boiling liquid for each pineapple you can. It’s always better to have too much than not enough. Running out of canning liquid mid-batch is frustrating!
Method: Water Bath Canning, raw or hot pack (hot pack recommended)
Yield: 2-3 pints per pineapple, or 5 to 6 half pints
Headspace: 1/2 inch
Jar Size: half-pint, pint or quart
Process Time: 15 minutes for pints and half pints, 20 minutes for quarts
Whole Raw Pineapples (one for every 2-3 pints jars to can)
Water, Juice or Syrup (roughly 2 to 2.5 cups per pineapple)
- Chop the pineapple into chunks. Large hunks, small chunks or minced for crushed pineapple. Choose your preference.
- For hot pack, bring the pineapple to a boil in the canning liquid of your choice and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Pack the pineapple and liquid into jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
- Can in a water bath canner, processing 15 minutes for half pints and 20 minutes for quarts.
- Remove from the canner and allow to cool to room temperature. Check jars for seal and use any unsealed jars immediately
**For a raw pack, pack raw pineapple into jars and cover with boiling liquid.