Nov 192008

I was in the Carmel market this week, taking photographs as I moved between the stands. Among the colorful fruit displays, there was one stand that was decorated with hanging pineapples.

That put me in mind of two things. One, my husband, who loves pineapple. Second, Guarapo de Piña. “Guarapo” is a fizzy, slightly alcoholic drink made from fruit, and Guarapo de Piña is based on pineapple rinds. I learned to make it when I lived in Venezuela.

I left the shuk pineapples alone, but bought a nice ripe one from the greengrocer close to home. My husband and Little One devoured the fruit, but I kept the fragrant rinds for my own treat.

Guarapo de Pina – Venezuelan Pineapple Cooler

Yield: approximately  1 1/2  liters

This is a really folkloric recipe, using no yeast but the natural wild yeast on the rinds. So to make Guarapo, repress your civilized instinct and don’t wash the rind. Just cut away any spoiled or moldy spots.


A glass or ceramic jar with a 3-liter capacity, and a long-handled spoon.

A clean plastic soda bottle of 1 1/2 liter capacity

Make sure everything is well-washed with detergent and hot water.


1 medium pineapple. Cut the peels off, keeping a little of the fruit on them. DO NOT WASH THE PEEL before cutting it away; you need the wild yeast on it. Trust me, it’ll be OK. Cut up the fruit, saving any juice from the process. Eat the fruit and put the unwashed rinds plus residual juice into the jar.

3/4 cup sugar

2 slices of fresh ginger root

2 liters water

Mix them all up together, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Cover the jar with a clean cloth or a paper towel secured with a rubber band. Remember to push the rinds down 2-3 x daily; this is important to prevent mold forming as fermentation pushes the rinds up to the surface and they come into contact with air.

Let it ferment for 3-5 days. It will smell a little funky when fermenting. Just have faith and wait it out. When the liquid is a deep yellow color, clear, and pleasant-smelling (this will depend on the temperature in your kitchen), strain it –

and funnel it into the clean bottle. I  advise bottling in clean plastic bottles because fermentation will continue, even if you keep the guarapo in the fridge. It once happened that I opened a bottle that had been keeping cold for a couple of weeks, and the guarapo fountained out of it, ruining my plate of spaghetti, dammit.

Below is a photo of a batch I made last year, 4 days into fermentation. The head of foam is totally normal. It means that the wild yeasts are busy converting sugar into alcohol.

It’s somewhat alcoholic.  I can’t tell you how much ABV  because it varies from batch to batch. Not that I’ve ever measured. That would be, as they say in Caracas, anti-folklorico. The level of alcohol will rise as the guarapo keeps fermenting, but you can’t let it sit around for more than a week, or you might have lovely pineapple vinegar instead of guarapo.

It’s  a light, refreshing, fragrant drink.

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