Pineapple isn’t exactly a summer fruit, but pineapple upside-down cake was such a staple of the cookouts, neighborhood potlucks, and Fourth of July picnics of my childhood that I start craving pineapple whenever the weather turns warm. Especially in the form of tiki drinks, ice cream, and sorbet.
Which is to say, I go through a lot of pineapple at home each summer. And, whether I’m making a sweet or savory pineapple recipe, there’s one irritating constant: the waste. I’m not much of a smoothie gal, so the common solution of dicing a pineapple core to freeze and purée won’t do the trick for me. Instead, I’ve adapted my technique for no-cook lemon syrup to help use up my pineapple scraps.
So far, this aromatic syrup has fueled a cocktail renaissance at home, taking the place of simple syrup in all my favorite drinks, but it’s just as handy for a pineapple-spiked limeade, or as a tropical touch for waffles.
The rough texture of the pineapple skin itself makes it impossible to clean, and thus an all-too-ready source of dirt and debris that have no place in a raw syrup. But the next time you trim a whole pineapple, save the core and pips—those little eyelets carved out after peeling.
Dice the core into small pieces, and add it to a medium bowl with the pips and a diced lemon or lime carcass (i.e., an empty rind left over from juicing). Next, add sugar. White sugar is fine if you want a super-clean pineapple flavor, but in this application I’m all about the complexity of raw or semi-refined sugars, like jaggery, turbinado, or Demerara. Their molasses-y notes call to mind dark rum, a natural match for pineapple, rounding out the syrup’s floral sweetness. (For a deeper dive into the options and flavor profiles at hand, check out our guide to raw sugar.)
If the sugar isn’t granular (or if the grain size is large and coarse), give it a whirl in a food processor so it dissolves more readily.
Cover the bowl tightly, and let the fruit stand until the sugar has completely disappeared. This will take about four hours if you give the fruit a stir or a shake every hour or so to ensure that all the sugar dissolves. I tend to take a more passive approach, leaving the bowl of fruit off to the side all day or overnight, and then straining it off whenever it suits me.
Since this recipe is designed to manage the scraps of a single pineapple, the yield is fairly low: just half a cup of thick syrup. But, of course, if you have an occasion to cut up several pineapples, the batch size can be multiplied accordingly.
For an easy summer drink, pour a little syrup over ice and top it off with a squeeze of lime and club soda to taste. Or use it in place of simple syrup in your favorite rum cocktails (it makes an absolutely killer daiquiri).