Often homemade, pineapple vinegar is a type of vinegar made with pineapple. Called vinagre de piña in Central America, this vinegar is a popular addition to a variety of dishes, including vinaigrette sauces, salsas, and vegetable toppings. In addition to its fruity flavor, pineapple vinegar is a favorite among cooks because it uses the skin of the pineapple rather than the actual fruit.
Although the fruit can be used as well, generally only the pineapple skin is included when creating this vinegar. Dark brown sugar, or the unrefined Mexican version, called piloncillo, as well as water, are often the only other ingredients in pineapple vinegar. Chili peppers, garlic, and other seasonings may be added to create spicier versions. Usually the ingredients need to ferment to create vinegar, but for more instant-use versions, apple cider vinegar can be added to the pineapple mixture. These instant versions are still better when allowed to sit for days or weeks before use.
In order to ensure no unwanted pesticides or chemicals mix with the fermenting liquid, organic pineapple is generally the preferred choice for pineapple vinegar. Additionally, it is important that all containers and utensils used in the process are extremely clean. Using items of questionable cleanliness may allow unwanted bacteria to develop in the vinegar.
To make pineapple vinegar, the pineapple rind, water, and sugar are placed in a clean container, covered, and allowed to ferment for about four to six weeks. The mixture will initially turn a dark brown but then clear as the solids settle. After one to three weeks the peels may be strained from the mixture. Alternately, the pineapple rinds may remain in the mixture until the fermentation process is complete. The forming vinegar should be kept away from light while it ferments, but it may be agitated, or shaken, periodically throughout the process.
When the liquid is ready to strain, it can simply be poured through a cheesecloth. If cheesecloths are unavailable, coffee filters can be used. The finished vinegar is normally a clear liquid, but additional ingredients or flavorings may change the coloring.
Once complete, the homemade pineapple vinegar can be transferred to jars or bottles for storage. As it sits, a gooey blob may form at the bottom of the liquid or may float on the top. Called the mother, this substance is used as a starter for other pineapple vinegar batches, so it should not be discarded.