Can You Freeze Pineapples?
You’ve bought more pineapples than you can use before they go bad. Maybe it was a great deal in the grocery, or you only needed a quarter to decorate a dessert. Either way, both whole, and cut pineapple last only a couple of days. And you definitely don’t want to throw the leftovers out. Can you freeze pineapple?
As you probably know, you can freeze pretty much any fruit, so the real question here is whether freezing pineapple makes sense. Or, to put it another way, if the frozen and thawed pineapple is good enough to use. And the best answer I can come up with is: it depends on how you plan on using the fruit. For some uses, it’s quite alright, while for others not so much.
But before we go into details, let’s talk briefly about the shelf life and going bad of pineapple. Those are important because in most cases fresh pineapple is what you prefer, so it’s (usually) better to avoid freezing if possible.
As I already mentioned, pineapple doesn’t last that long.
A whole fruit typically lasts one to three days in the pantry and 3 to 6 days in the fridge. That, of course, depends on how long it sat on the shelf in the grocery. Once you slice or cut up the fruit, it lasts about 3 to 5 days in the fridge. Here’s how the shelf lives compare:
|Fresh whole pineapple||1 - 3 days||3 - 6 days|
|Sliced or chunked pineapple||3 - 5 days|
Please note that those periods are estimates for how long the quality of the pineapple is best. You can usually keep it for another day or two, but chances are the quality won’t be that great.
A whole pineapple usually starts to spoil from the bottom, near the core. So even if your fruit looks just fine when it sits on a shelf, make sure to check its bottom. If mold started to grow over there, there are two ways to go.
First, you can consider the fruit bad and discard it. No one will blame you for that.
Second, you can cut it up as soon as possible, discard a couple of slices from the bottom to be safe, and check the quality of the rest. If the remaining slices have an off smell but look and taste alright, it’s up to you if you eat them or throw them out. If they seem to be just fine, feel free to consume them or freeze them.
If the fruit has any soft spots, or its smell started to change, the procedure is pretty much the same. Cut it up and keep whatever is still good enough to consume.
When it comes to sliced pineapple, look for signs of mold, discolorations, and check the smell. If either is somehow off, it’s probably time to get rid of them. Same if the slices sit in the fridge for over a week.
Okay, so now you know for how long pineapples last and how to tell a bad one from a good one. So if your pineapple is still good, and you won’t be able to use it before it likely goes bad, freezing might be your way out.
Like with pretty much any fruit (e.g. mango), the texture and taste of pineapple changes slightly after freezing and thawing. But some fruits freeze better than others, and pineapple is in that group. If you’re a pineapple conneseur eating it on a regular basis, you will notice there’s a difference. But if it’s on your table only from time to time, you might not even notice the difference. I personally notice only that the thawed pineapple’s texture is more mushy than fresh one’s. When it comes to taste, I find it perfectly fine.
Either way, there are a couple of ways that you can use frozen and thawed pineapple instead of a fresh one without any negative consequences. I talk all about them later in the article. So to answer the question: yes, you can freeze pineapples, and there are a lot of options when it comes to using them. But if you’re all set on thawing and eating them on their own, you might be a bit disappointed about the results.
Freezing a whole pineapple doesn’t sound like a good idea. It’d take quite some time to defrost, and take way too much space in the freezer. Plus you would still need to cut it up after thawing. I don’t know about you, but I like to have the food in the freezer prepared as much as possible. This way, even when I’m feeling super lazy, I have enough willpower to take it out and start defrosting, knowing there’s nothing else I need to do about it.
Okay, so as you’ve probably guessed, we’re going to cut up the pineapple before freezing. Start with removing the skin and coring the pineapple. If you’re doing this very often, consider buying a pineapple corer to speed things up.
Now it’s time to slice or chunk the fruit. Consider how you will use the fruit after thawing and choose a size and shape that makes sense. If you don’t have a set agenda for the defrosted pineapple, cut it into small pieces. They are versatile to use and thaw quite fast.
[Optional] Place the fruit pieces into a sieve or strainer for a couple of minutes. Getting rid of some of the liquid on the surface will result in less frost on the pieces. I recommend doing that especially if you plan on using the pineapple in a fruit salad and throwing it in frozen. If you defrost the fruit first, you can strain the water before adding the pineapple.
Next, you place the chunks onto a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat. The mat is there to make removing the pieces from the cookie sheet easy. Alternatively, if you don’t yet own such a mat, you can use wax or parchment paper. Here’s how it looks like with parchment paper:
Put the cookie sheet in the freezer and keep there until the fruit freezes. This process is called flash-freezing and will make the chunks freeze separately, not in a single big clump. This way you can easily defrost only a couple of pieces. I usually leave the cookie sheet in the freezer overnight.
Once the chunks are frozen, remove them from the cookie sheet and store them in a freezer bag or container in your freezer. If need be, add a label with a name and date to it for future reference.
There are a couple of ways to defrost the pineapple, depending on your needs. Here are some of the most popular options:
- Thaw in the fridge. The classic way to defrost food is to do it in the refrigerator. Transfer as many chunks or slices as you need to an airtight container or freezer bag and put it in the refrigerator. Do it in the evening, so the fruit is ready to go the next morning.
- Thaw in cold water. If you don’t have that much time on hand, throw a freezer bag with the pieces into a pot with cold water. Defrosting should take about an hour or two, depending on the size and amount of pieces. Please note that it’s far more effective to use a freezer bag instead of a container in the method.
- Throw it in frozen. In many cases, you don’t have to bother with defrosting the food and can use it straight from the freezer. Check out some examples in the next section.
Did you freeze a bunch of pineapple slices and have no idea on how to use them? No worries, as we got you covered. Here are a couple of popular ways to use frozen or defrosted pineapple:
- Make a smoothie. Pineapple is a popular smoothie ingredient, and so are ice cubes. That means you can throw it in straight from the freezer instead of the ice cubes and your smoothie should turn out just fine.
- Make pineapple-infused water. Put a chunk or two into a glass and fill it with water. Pinch the chunks with a fork to release some of the juices to the water. The drink will have a slight pineapple-y flavor, so don’t expect it to taste anywhere near pineapple juice. Nevertheless, it makes a great drink on a sweltering day, and when you finish sipping the water, you get to eat those pineapple pieces.
- Use in cooked recipes. There are hundreds of cooked recipes out there that call for pineapples. For example, check out this slow cooker Hawaiian BBQ chicken. In many cases, you don’t even need to defrost the fruit.
- Eat it as is or add to a fruit salad. As I’ve already mentioned, the frozen and thawed pineapple is mushier than a fresh one, but the taste, at least for me, is perfectly acceptable. Make sure to test your favorite fruit salad before serving it to your guests, though.