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Stop Tossing Your Pineapple Peels: Turn Them Into Tea, Instead

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Prepping a pineapple produces a lot of waste, from its tough skin to its spiky crown to its fibrous core.

On a large scale, the waste from pineapple production has exciting potential: It can be used to produce energy; the enzyme bromelain can be extracted from pineapple plant stems as well as these seemingly inedible scraps and used for a number of applications; and pineapple leaves are being used to make a leather-like textile. All of these can make a serious dent in pineapple biowaste as a whole, which is good news for our planet but doesn’t translate very ​well to home applications.

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Photo by James Ransom

This doesn't mean that composting is the only option: We’ve learned that apple peels and cores hold a great deal of flavor, and the same turns out to be true for pineapples. Enter Pineapple, Cinnamon, and Ginger Iced Tea.

I realize that it's February, and if you're looking at snow outside your window, an icy cold drink might not sound all that appealing. But just like Apple Peel Tea, this recipe is endlessly adaptable and, thanks to the various growing locations of pineapples, you can enjoy pineapples, and this tea, nearly year round.

Right now, using Caribbean pineapples, drink​ this tea piping hot (I polished off an entire batch myself in one afternoon). Come springtime, when Hawaiian pineapples are in season, start drinking the tea iced, and swap out the cinnamon for fresh herbs like mint.

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Photo by James Ransom

There are a couple of different ways to break down a pineapple depending on how you're planning to use the flesh. Whichever way you choose, you'll want to set aside all of the peel and trimmings, and possibly the core, too. Personally, I think gnawing on the core is a cook’s reward for prepping pineapples. (Do note that chewing on too many could result in bezoars (think hairballs for humans) and Food52er HalfPint has shared that “the fibers from the core can give you micro-cuts in the mouth that hurt like the dickens.” Thus, your wisest move might be to add the fibrous core to the pot along with all of the peels.)

While Laura Biscaro’s recipe calls for including the crown, we chose not to since there is so little flesh attached to the bottom. Plus, we’re secretly optimistic that we’ll be able to grow a pineapple plant in a non-tropical zone. If you are too, just twist off the crown, let it dry for a few days to give the end a chance to harden, then plant it in a well-draining pot, and wait. Then wait some more.

In a few short years, with any luck, your plant will produce a pineapple—which you can turn into another batch of tea.​

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Pineapple, Cinnamon, and Ginger Iced Tea

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Serves 4
  • 1 pineapple peel, crown, scraps
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 knob of ginger
  • Water, enough to cover

Know of a great recipe in the Food52 archives that uses an overlooked kitchen scrap (anything from commonly discarded produce parts to stale bread to bones and more)? Tell me about it in the comments: I want to know how you're turning what would otherwise be trash into a dish to treasure!

Tags: cooking with scraps, pineapple, peels