Jul 6, 2023
Pineapple is one of the most popular tropical fruits in the world. It has this sweet, tangy taste that goes well with its juicy texture. The tropical flavor with a hint of citrus is so distinct it mixes perfectly on both sweet and savory dishes. Unfortunately, it’s also highly perishable, so you can’t hoard it to your heart’s content even if it’s on sale. Here’s how to freeze dry pineapple so you’ll have that sweet and sour taste any time of the year.
The best benefit of freeze-drying pineapple is you retain its nutritional value. This tropical fruit contains:
By freeze drying, you halt the process of oxidation that degrades these nutrients and ruin the fruit.
You can freeze-dry any pineapple, may it be fresh or canned. You can choose Smooth Cayenne for its sweet, juicy flesh if you prefer fresh. The Queen is a smaller cultivar rich in sugar and intense pineapple flavor. There are also other varieties like the Abacaxi, Pernambuco, Kona Sugarloaf, and Red Spanish. But they don’t do quite well like the previous two we mentioned.
If you’re getting fresh pineapple, you should get one that’s between just ripe and fully ripe. Others go for pineapple that’s a day short of being ripe because they say it contains less water and sugar. That’s okay because the less water the pineapple has, the faster it is to freeze dry. The problem is some find that freeze-drying pineapple dulls the flavor. So if you have a dull-tasting pineapple, you’ll get an even duller one in the end.
If you have never prepared a pineapple, the skin with the eyes can be a bit daunting. You can use several peeling and slicing tools on Amazon, but most of them waste so much flesh that it’s a shame.
If you have time and would like to preserve as much flesh as possible, peel it the old-fashioned way. Slice out the top and cut away the skin as thinly as possible. If you see some “eyes” left on the flesh, that’s fine. What you need is to remove the tough skin from the fruit.
For the eyes, follow a spiral pattern. Cut at each side of the eyes, angling your knife like you would when decorating an apple or a carrot. Go across the fruit until you remove all the eyes.
To remove the core, slice the fruit straight down in half from top to bottom. Then cut the halves again to make cutting out the core easier. Let the pineapple quarter lie firmly on the cutting board, then chop away 1/2 or 3/4 inch of the core.
Once you get the core out, it’s now time to slice your pineapple. 1/2 and 3/4 inch thickness is acceptable. If you have a fully ripe pineapple, cut it into smaller chunks. The greater the surface area, the better results you’ll have with freeze drying.
Of all the fruits you can freeze dry, this is the most highly recommended one to pre-freeze. Pineapple is 85%-90% water, almost the same as a ripe mango. However, depending on its level of ripeness, it’s about 12%-20% sugar. This makes the fruit hard to freeze dry because sugar binds with water.
To help make your freeze drying a success, it’s recommended you pre-freeze for at least 8 hours. If you can do it overnight or 24 hours, that would be perfect. Freeze drying works by sublimating ice to water vapor. The greater the number of ice crystals in the fruit, the more efficiently your freeze dryer will work.
This is why pre-freezing cuts the cycle time to about 8-10 hours. One YouTuber had a 12-hour freeze time on his pineapple with his Harvest Right freeze dryer.
When you pre-freeze, use the same tray you’ll use to freeze-dry the pineapple. To prevent sticking, you can line the trays with parchment paper, especially on ripe ones.
Depending on the pineapple’s ripeness, you may see some bubbling. Somewhat similar to oranges. This is normal and shouldn’t be a concern.
Freeze-drying pineapple can take 38-42 hours if it’s fully ripe. The challenge here is that you can get inconsistent results with the fruit. Sometimes the freeze-drying can take more than 48-53 hours of freeze-drying time.
A freeze-dried pineapple should have a solid, airy texture, much like a dense Styrofoam. If some pieces of fruit feel cold and a bit soft, put the trays back. Others got a bit of success by setting the drying temp to 125°F (52 °C) and 6 hours of extra drying time.
A properly freeze-dried pineapple can last 25 years or more. However, storage plays a major role in the storage life of freeze-dried fruit, so we advise that you take it seriously.
For on-demand use, use Mason jars that you can open and reseal easily. There are manual and electric vacuum sealers that can help you make the jar air-tight.
For long-term storage, Mylar bags are perfect. They’re lightweight and designed to keep away moisture and air for years.
Remember to use oxygen absorbers on your freeze-dried storage. About 1-2 of the 300cc packets will work for every gallon of your container. Add the OAs in before you seal your container and it will take out any residual oxygen that can spoil your food.
The high water and sugar content of pineapples can make freeze-drying a challenge. But when done right, you’ll have a freeze-dried snack that you can use for desserts, juices, smoothies, and other delicious recipes.
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