Freezing pineapple juice

Pineapple juice has become a bigger and bigger irritation for me at home. I just don’t like the taste of commercially packaged pineapple juice. It tastes a little off, it doesn’t taste fresh (it ain’t), and its deficiencies carry on into whatever drink I make. However, it’s also not practical for me to buy and juice a pineapple on demand.

I read that pineapple juice freezes well, so I’m now trying that. I bought some fresh pineapple juice from a local deli—they juiced it for me on the spot—decanted it into an ice cube tray and froze it.

The cubes came out nicely—these are about 1.25 oz each—and now they’re in a bag in the freezer.

I thawed one this morning and drank it on its own—it’s not as aromatic or splendid as pineapple juiced a la minute, but it tasted a hell of a lot better than anything I’ve had out of a jar or can.

I’ll report back once I’ve tried them in some drinks.


Started with a Don’s Beach Planter. Used one pineapple ice cube. So far so good.

I really should do an A:B test, though. I’ll look into that next.

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What do you do to thaw them on demand?

Well… they thaw reasonably quickly on their own—certainly faster than juicing a pineapple—but you do have to wait. Obviously, they’re blender-ready when still frozen.

I will do a more formal test, just haven’t gotten it together this weekend.

(My first A:B attempt was with a Mary Pickford, but that got weird, so I’ll redo it.)

Algonquin Cocktail A:B Test

I haven’t had an Algonquin in well over a fifteen years, although this was a drink I was making from time to time back in the 1990s/early 2000s. I thought it was worth trying for this purpose, if only because the pineapple juice has to stand entirely on its own in this drink. @OldGoatMan on Twitter also suggested it, so here we go.

The one on the left is made with frozen fresh pineapple juice, the one on the right is made with Dole canned pineapple juice.

As the photo shows, the frozen fresh juice one has a teeny tiny “head” on it, while the canned juice one does not. (This is a stirred drink.)

Neither offers much on the nose, although the one with the Dole juice has the faintest trace of that off-putting canned juice smell. (Really, I should be doing an A:B:C test including fresh pineapple juice a la minute, but that would probably just make me feel bad in the end.)

Neither is what I would call a good drink. I must admit that they taste close, but not quite identical. The one with the fresh frozen juice “wins” by a hair simply because of its relative neutrality, whilst the one with the canned juice tastes vaguely off (as expected). It’s a subtle thing, but it’s there. Would I pick up the difference in a blind test? Not sure, but probably. There’s a bit in the nose, and somewhat more in the aftertaste. I’m not sure how to describe it.

Addendum: an interesting thing I’ve noticed as I’ve let these two drinks sit here for a few minutes is that they’re becoming more aromatic. (Some of this is warming.) The one made with the canned juice is developing a stronger pineapple nose—but not a good pineapple nose—whereas the one with my frozen fresh juice still doesn’t have much going on.

Mary Pickford A:B Test

Sorting the spec for the Mary Pickford is tricky. My first go 'round was hewing close to the old Cuban spec, and the drink was nasty.

My second, better-tasting version was my own gut interpolation with some help from @TheGinhound on Twitter: 1.5 oz Havana Club 3, 1.25 oz pineapple, 0.5 oz fresh grenadine (50 brix) and 1 scant bar spoon maraschino.

Check this out!

These two drinks are utterly identical except that the one of the left is made with frozen fresh pineapple and the one on the right is made with canned pineapple. (Same weird color thing happened the first time I tried to make this drink, which is one reason I discarded it. I don’t know what’s going on here, but the pomegranate juice is interacting differently with the canned pineapple juice.)

Both drinks are tasty, but the one with the frozen fresh juice has a more reasonable color, a better head, and is lacking the slightly off taste of the canned pineapple juice. Honestly, in both, the pineapple is playing second fiddle to the grenadine.

This year I’ve been doing more with fresh pineapples. I discovered that Trader Joe’s here often has them for $2.99, and I’m getting used to cutting them up. I agree that there’s really nothing like fresh pineapple, although I always wonder if there is a brand out there that packages pineapple juice better than the standard Dole cans. (Trader Joe’s often has “cold pressed” juice and it’s okay; a step up from cans, but not as good as fresh.)

My favorite pineapple drink these days is the Hotel Nacional Special recipe from the Smugglers Cove book. It has muddled chunks of pineapple and really shines with fresh fruit (as one would expect).

In any case, frozen juice is something to try, thanks for the suggestion.

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Fresh is going to win every time. Way better texture, way better aromatics.

There’s definitely opinions out there about shelf-stable pineapple juice packages. I suspect one or two of the glass jar pineapple juices are slightly better than the canned stuff. But my conclusion is that the pasteurization and whatever else is involved does more damage than I will abide.

Alas, while my frozen pineapple cubes basically work, there’s nothing revelatory about them. They don’t have the texture of fresh pineapple juice and the aromatics are subdued.

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The Trader Joe’s cold pressed juice is unpasteurized, which makes it interesting. Still, I haven’t been too excited about it. (It’s worth a try.) But, like you say, fresh still rules.


I appreciate your research, @martin, and appreciate as much finding that I’m not alone in strongly disliking the particular taste of canned / shelf-stable pineapple juice, at least for cocktails. Trader Joe’s has beautifully packaged pineapple juice cans and they look great on the shelf, but I’d rather toss them in the trash then use them in a mixed drink.

My method for juicing a fresh pineapple works, but it is more laborious than I’d like. I slice off the rind of a pineapple, cut the fruit into chunks, then blend it all into slush. Then I pour that slush into a plastic nut milk bag, and squeeze all of the juice into a bottle with a funnel in the sink. It makes a reasonable quantity of juice, and in my experience the juice tastes quite good for at least a number of days. The plastic nutmilk bag can be washed in the dishwasher and reused.

That said, I don’t love the squeezing process (I always wash my hands extra carefully beforehand, but I STILL find it mildly objectionable that the juice I and others will be drinking is flowing out over my fingers and hands. Maybe that’s just irrational squeamishness, though.)

Looking for a way to make that process easier, I bought this press:

And tried adding the nut milk bag to IT, hoping maybe to get a little more juice from the pulp, too. I found that, first of all, unless you have some surface you can really anchor the press to, like a workbench or wooden counter or something, it’s a real pain to use, because the press itself starts turning once you get it close to being screwed reasonably tightly. So then you have to try to anchor the press with one hand, or with an assistant, while turning it… it’s not fun. And I didn’t find it meaningfully increased the amount of juice I was able to extract from a pineapple.

I was at the boardwalk in Idlewild, New Jersey this summer and saw a vendor using a pineapple corer drill attachment that looked like it made extracting the fruit from the pineapple itself a snap. I haven’t ordered one, yet, but I’m considering giving it a try as a way of making that part of the process a little easier.

Just some thoughts. Seems like there’s not a great replacement for making pineapple juice fresh, and I’m just trying to find ways to make that as painless as possible.


Tangential, but this just dropped:

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