Nothing Goes to Waste – Drying Pineapple Cores

Last year with all the canning I did using pineapples, I never thought to try to utilize the core.  It’s hard, woody, and not very tasty, so the only thing I could think to do with it was throw it in the compost heap.

This year I just couldn’t bring myself to throwing another core away.  There had to be something I could do with it.

Researching what to do with pineapple cores yielded some interesting options such as freezing chunks of it and using it as ice cubes in drinks, throwing it in smoothies, and the option I opted for — drying it.  Last year I dried several pineapples, but not the cores.  This year I dried only the cores.

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The salvaged pineapple cores from the pineapples I used to make crushed pineapple.

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I sliced them thin because cores are tough and woody.

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I put the slices in the dehydrator at 135 degrees for about 12 hours until they were completely dry.

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This is what they looked like after they were dry.

The dried core was not woody or tough.  It was not as sweet as when I’ve dried pineapple slices, but it is tasty and will make a nice snack or addition to my granola.

Using as much of any food I buy or grow is important to me, so this project is one I will definitely be doing again.  Another jar of wholesome goodness for the pantry shelf, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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Canning Crushed Pineapple

I love it when pineapples go on sale.  From about the middle of March until the middle of June, we can find pineapples at our local grocery stores here in Michigan for about $1.00 each.  Not every week mind you, but during these three months, every couple of weeks one store or another will put them on sale. This is when I stock the pantry with freshly canned crushed pineapple and like to experiment combining pineapple with various other fruits to make new jams, jellies, concentrates, or sauces.

Last year I canned crushed pineapple, but not nearly enough, so when I found pineapples the other day for $.99 each, I bought a dozen of them for the sole purpose of making crushed pineapple.  In order to get the most usable fruit out of these pineapples, I opted to cut out the fruit with a knife and then scrape the skins with a spoon. Although I like using a pineapple corer most of the time, I have found this gadget leaves a lot of usable fruit in the skins.

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After I cut off the top and split the pineapple down the center, I cut a V in the center of each half to remove the core.

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Then I cut out the main chunks of fruit from the skin.

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Even being careful to get as close to the skin as possible, there is still a lot of fruit that can be scraped from the sides. Using a spoon I carefully scrape the skins.

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Next I place all the big chunks of fruit in a food processor.

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A few quick pulses later…

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And I’ve got crushed pineapple.

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I then heat the pineapple just till it’s warm, fill hot jars with it, seal with bands and lids, and process for 25 minutes in a water bath.

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You’ll notice some little brown specs in my jars.  These are seeds.  I’m not particular when it comes to pineapple seeds.  I figure there has got to be some nutritional value to them, so why bother trying to remove all of them.

Home-canned crushed pineapple is super sweet and tastes just like fresh pineapple.  Stocking the pantry with more than a dozen jars of pineapple should keep up happy for some time, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Leather — And We’re Not Talking Cow Hides Here

One of my favorite ways to use up extra melon, leftover pulp, and over-ripe fruit is to make fruit leather.  It started about a year ago with tons and tons of plum pulp, continued with pineapple and berries, and finally evolved into peaches (with the skins on, of course).  This is a great way to make a sweet snack that is nutritious and healthy that I don’t mind the kids eating whenever they want because I control the amount and type of sweetener used.

Pretty much all the fruit leathers I make require only two ingredients:  Fruit pulp and honey or sugar.  Some of the fruits don’t need a sweetener, while others need just a small amount.

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Peach (with peel) pulp with sugar to taste.

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Blueberry with honey to taste.

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Pineapple – pureed, no sugar.

Almost any fruit can be used for fruit leather as long as the water content is not extremely high like watermelon.  I know some people have made fruit leather from watermelon juice, but I have not had much luck with that.

Using up all the fruit remnants from my canning is important to me because I hate to throw anything out.  Dehydrating fruit pulp is one quick and easy way to do this and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

A Summer Passing – Rhubarb & Strawberries Farewell

The humidity is not letting up here in eastern Michigan and the temperatures are at or above 90° depending how many clouds block out the sun. My cucumbers are climbing the a-frame and some tomatoes are showing the first signs of orange.

 

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Roma Tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes

The plum tree is so thick with leaves that finding any plums is a challenge, but they are in there and getting big. Hubby’s been eating them green, but I’m waiting for August when they’ll be ripe and purple.

It’s hard to believe that July is upon us and half the year is gone. In just a few months the winds will start to howl from the north and bring fall and all it’s beauty to our doorstep. With fall comes harvest, which based on the heat and humidity plaguing our days, should be bountiful. The sweet potatoes are spreading, the beets are flourishing, the peppers are blooming, and the kale is thick and lush.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Beets

Beets

Peppers

Peppers

Kale

Kale

Strawberry season is coming to an end far too soon. I wish the sweet ripe berries could last longer than a few glorious weeks.

My strawberry plants

My strawberry plants

Rhubarb, too is starting to wilt. Be it the heat, the humidity or just it’s time, I fear these two will soon be gone for another year. My rhubarb is still small and young and I have no idea what to do with it. Not having grown it before, I’m wondering if I should harvest the tiny stalks or leave them until next year. My plants are nothing like the huge plants I harvested out at the orchard. Do I cut them down to the ground or leave them be until next year?

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

With some of the rhubarb I picked a few weeks ago I made a luscious Rhubarb-Pineapple Jam that truly was the best of both worlds — tart yet sweet.

Rhubarb-Pineapple Jam

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4 Cups Finely Chopped Rhubarb
1 Whole Pineapple Pureed
4 Cups Sugar
5 Tbsp. Clear Jel dissolved in 1/2 Cup Water

Combine rhubarb, pineapple, and sugar in large stock pot. Add Clear Jel dissolved in water. Bring to low boil and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often. Increase heat and boil hard for one minute. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.

Ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space, seal and screw on bands. Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes.

The end of the week should bring some relief from the heat and maybe once again we can bask in the glory of summer instead of hiding out in the air-conditioned house. There is much to be done before fall, many days to enjoy, activities to pursue, and places to go. As winter was unrelenting and confining, so too has summer become — but this too shall pass, I’m sure of it, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

Pineapple Days, Raspberry Nights

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Canning, canning, and did I mention canning! That is what I did today and if I hadn’t run out of sugar, I’d probably still be doing it. Plus my feet feel like they are on fire, my back is aching, and I’m tired, but heck, if I had sugar I’d probably never have stopped. So much to can and I haven’t even gone strawberry picking yet.

This morning I spent six hours making another batch of Pina Colada Concentrate without the pulp this time, a batch of Pineapple-Kiwi Jam, and a batch of Lemon-Pineapple Preserves. Any normal person would have called it quits after this, but I wasn’t tired of canning, just tired of canning pineapple. So I set my remaining seven pineapples aside for another day and decided to start working with raspberries.

Last week my favorite grocery store, Meijer’s had raspberries on sale for $1.00 per 6 oz. package. I picked up ten packages and stuck them right in the freezer. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do anything with them right then, so seeing that raspberries freeze quick and easy, they went in the chest freezer until I could get to them.

Taking the berries from the freezer I spent the next couple hours making Raspberry-Lemonade Concentrate and Raspberry-Lime Jam. I hadn’t worked with raspberries in a few years, but knew I didn’t like the seeds. This meant using my food mill to strain out most of the seeds. A few I can stand, all is just too much.

Following are the recipes with photos. The Pina Colada Concentrate update can be found in my prior post: Frozen Pina Coladas the rest are new. All of my jam/preserve recipes today used Clear Jel as the setting agent. This is only the second time I’ve used this for something other than pie filling.  I am still learning how much to use. Any changes that I’d suggest based on the final consistency are noted at the end of the recipe. I hope you try some of these, all turned out very tasty.

Pineapple-Kiwi Jam

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3 Cups Chopped and Peeled Kiwi (about 9)
2 Cups Fresh Crushed Pineapple with Juice (1 pineapple)
1/3 Cup Water
7 Tbsp. Clear Jel
3 Cups Sugar

Peel and chop kiwi.

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Core and puree pineapple.

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Combine kiwi, pineapple, 1/2 Cup sugar and Clear Jel dissolved in 1/3 cup water in large pan.

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Bring jam to boil, careful it does not stick. This is very thick so it will stick if you do not watch it closely.

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Once it boils, it will start to burn if you don’t add the sugar immediately. Add remaining sugar and bring to boil.

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Boil jam for 3 minutes. The mixture will be very thick. To thin you could add additional pineapple juice or water.
Ladle jam into jars and put on lids. Water-bath can for 10 minutes.

***This jam turned out much thicker than I like it. Clear Jel does leave it still spreadable, but I prefer a softer set jam and would suggest decreasing the Clear Jel to 4 Tbsp. next time.

Lemon-Pineapple Preserves

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3 Large or 5 Medium lemons, squeezed of all juice, strained (shells reserved)
3 Pounds Fresh pineapple, cleaned, cored, and pureed (about 2 whole)
2 3/4 Cups Water
4 Tbsp. Clear Jel
6 3/4 Cups Sugar

Combine lemon shells and seeds in a cheesecloth bag or jelly bag.

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Combine lemon juice, pineapple, and cheesecloth bag in large stock pot. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes.

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Remove cheesecloth bag and add 4 Tbsp. Clear Jel mixed in 3/4 cup water. Add 3/4 sugar and bring to boil. Boil for 2 minutes.

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Add remaining sugar and boil for 1 minute more.

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Ladle into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Cover and seal. Process in water-bath canner 20 minutes.

***The consistency was perfect, however, although tart, I could not taste “lemon” in this preserve. I might consider adding the zest of one lemon to see if it would make it more lemony next time.

Raspberry-Lime Jam

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5 Cups Raspberries
1/2 Cup Water
2 Limes
4 Tbsp. Clear Jel
1/4 Cup Water
5 Cups Sugar

Combine raspberries and 1/2 cup water in stock pot. Bring to boil. Turn down and simmer for 10 minutes to release juices. With immersion blender puree raspberries.

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Run berries through food mill. This should give you approximately 2.5 cups of strained pulp.

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Zest one lime and juice two.

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Combine lime zest, juice, raspberry pulp, 1/2 cup sugar, and 4 Tbsp. Clear Jel dissolved in 1/4 cup water in stock pot. Bring to boil for 2 minutes.

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Add remaining sugar and boil 1 minute longer.

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Ladle jam into jars, cover and seal in water-bath canner for 10 minutes.

***The consistency was good for this jam. The lime flavor however was very slight. I would use the zest of two limes rather than just one next time.

Raspberry-Lemonade Concentrate

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6 Cups Raspberries
4 Cups Lemon Juice, fresh or bottled
6 Cups Sugar

Combine all ingredients in large stock pot and bring to boil.

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With an immersion blender/stick blender puree the liquid till smooth.

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Heat to 190° over medium-heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Put the concentrate though food mill to remove seeds.

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Return concentrate to pan and bring back up to 190°. Remove from heat, ladle into jars, cover and process in water-bath canner for 15 minutes.

To reconstitute: Mix one part concentrate with 1 1/2 cups water. Or for a more refreshing alternative, try making a Frozen Raspberry-Lemonade Smoothie (recipe follows).

Frozen Raspberry-Lemonade Smoothie

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1 3/4 Cup Raspberry-Lemonade Concentrate
5 Cups Ice
1 Cup Water

Combine all ingredients in blender.

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Blend until smooth.

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Serve in a tall glass. Could garnish with fresh raspberries and a wedge of lemon.

The canning went fast and by 3:00 this afternoon I was done canning and on my way to making dinner. I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to get out of the kitchen. Thankfully, dinner is done, I’m out of sugar, and tomorrow is another day, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Frozen Pina Coladas

Today was one of those days when I should have stayed in bed, pulled the covers tight over my head, and not gotten up until tomorrow. Unfortunately, I’m not that lucky, so I banged my head against the wall and failed over and over until I thought the next thing I touched would explode. Absolutely nothing has gone right. How is this possible? How is it possible that I managed to break, wreck, spoil, and ruin everything I tried to do today? There has got to be some talent in that, don’t you think.

I woke this morning thrilled the weather was perfect, elated the sun was shining, and I had more energy and ambition than I thought I’d ever be able to use in one day. I was wrong. When everything I did had to be done at least twice, you tend to extinguish any energy you might have had pretty quick.

One thing that I did manage to finish, without ruining, was canning a batch of Pina Colada Lemonade Concentrate. This was at the top of my agenda seeing as I needed to use up the last six of the first twelve pineapples I bought a week ago. Now I just have twelve left that are slowing ripening in the basement. The recipe turned out as predicted. The one problem was I don’t like it as written. However, I know canning is a learning process, so I immediately came up with a solution that will make the next batch perfect. Here is the recipe, with the change I’ll be making noted.

Pina Colada Lemonade Concentrate

7 Cups crushed pineapple with juice
4 Cups fresh lemon juice
3 1/2 Cups sugar
3 tsp. coconut extract

Core and scrape two pineapples, saving as much juice as possible. Puree pineapple in food processor till nearly smooth.

Puree fresh pineapple.

Puree fresh pineapple.

Combine pineapple, lemon juice, and sugar in large stock pot.

Combine pineapple, lemon juice, and sugar in pan.

Combine pineapple, lemon juice, and sugar in pan.

Bring liquid to boil and cook until it reaches 190°. Remove from heat.

**This is where I am making a change next time I make this. I did not like the texture of the drink with the pineapple in it. Once the mixture is boiled, I will run it through a food mill to remove all the pineapple pieces. Then continue as directed.

Add coconut extract. Ladle cooked mixture into jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Ladle into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Ladle into jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.

Process in water bath for 15 minutes.

Pina Colada Lemonade Concentrate

Pina Colada Lemonade Concentrate

UPDATE 6/18/14 – Today I made another batch of this concentrate but removed most of the pulp using a food mill.

After the liquid has reached 190, run liquid through food mill.

After the liquid has reached 190, run liquid through food mill.

This will remove the pulp.

This will remove the pulp.

Return juice to pot, bring back up to 190 and continue as above.

Return juice to pot, bring back up to 190 and continue as above.

To make a Frozen Pina Colada: Mix one cup concentrate with one cup of ice in blender. Blend till slushy. Add one cup vanilla ice cream and blend until thick and evenly distributed. You might have to add a little water or pineapple juice if the mixture is too thick. Serve with pineapple garnish.

This is one of the kids and my favorite Family Movie Night beverages. Ice cream makes everything better and this is no exception.

Today was a frustrating day, but the nicest thing happened when hubby came home from work. He listened patiently to me vent about my day and after showing him a batch of jam I’d made that would not set he tasted it and said, “Well, I like it! This is really good. This will be perfect for pancakes and crepes. You should make those next week.” That little bit of support, picking me up when I felt I was at my lowest, made all the difference in the world today and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Parishing Pineapples

Sitting around doing nothing is not something I do well. Actually I am quite terrible at it, thus why I have been in bed for the past four hours after insisting on getting up and doing more than my body was ready to handle. If this gallbladder thing doesn’t resolve itself soon, I may very well go crazy.

For the past two mornings, when I’ve gotten up, I’ve felt good. In fact, today I felt really good until about noon. Then I started getting fatigued and achy. Being stubborn, or maybe just stupid (the jury is still out on that one), I decided to push myself to the absolute limits — and here I am in bed, anxiously waiting for the sun to set so I can go to sleep and end this day. It’s not so much that I want this day to end, as I want tomorrow to start because it is my hope that after a good night’s sleep, I’ll be better again. Keep your fingers crossed.

So what was so darn important that I had to push myself beyond my current hindered capacity?

I had a dozen pineapples sitting on my kitchen table that I bought nearly a week ago. When I bought them I had every intention of making some wonderful things with them, and still do. Trouble is that they are ripening faster than I would like and seeing as I neglected to move them to the basement where it is much cooler and far less humid, something had to be done.

Without much energy or inspiration I took six of the twelve and made a family favorite snack — Dried Pineapple. I really wanted to make this because for my birthday my parents gave me a new food dehydrater this past weekend and I was dying to try it.

The brand new food dehydrator my parents got me for my birthday.

The brand new food dehydrater my parents got me for my birthday.

Dried pineapple is easy enough, just time-consuming. It took about an hour an a half standing on the hard kitchen floor to fill the dehydrator and scrape all the pulp from the shells for a later project.

Three of the twelve ripening pineapples.

Three of the twelve ripening pineapples.

First I sliced off the tops.

First I sliced off the tops.

Next I screwed my handy-dandy pineapple corer into the pineapple.

Next I screwed my handy-dandy pineapple corer into the pineapple.

8 to 10 full turns later, the pineapple is cored.

8 to 10 full turns later, the pineapple is cored.

The pineapple slices.

The pineapple slices.

The pineapple slices on the dehydrator rack.

The pineapple slices on the dehydrator rack.

Once the racks were full, I then cleaned the pineapple shells so I’d have the pulp for another project when I’m up to it (or not up to but stupid enough to try before I’m completely better).

The cored pineapple.  This still has  lots of pulp that is great for other recipes.

The cored pineapple. This still has lots of pulp that is great for other recipes.

The shells after I scraped out all the sweet usable meat.

The shells after I scraped out all the sweet usable meat.

A full bowl of pineapple scrap for later projects.

A full bowl of pineapple scrap for later projects.

That’s six down and six to go. A manageable amount, don’t you think?  Trouble is that while I’ve been sitting here in bed, fatigue in my legs and back driving me crazy, and trying very hard not to be crabby with everyone, I decided to research recipes for canning with pineapple. I had two recipes on my Canning To Do List already, but found three more. You know what that means? Yep, tomorrow I’m off to buy twelve more pineapples while they are still on sale for $.99 each. This time though they are going in the basement.

I might not always allow my body to recoup as much as it needs to, but today while suffering a slight relapse I found some really fun recipes to try and a couple great ideas to put my own spin on, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.