First question: where do you think pineapples grow? ‘On a palm tree’, many would answer, and this is going to be a false answer. It is a herbaceous perennial plant that looks more like grass with wide waxy leaves, with pineapple starting to form from dozens of individual flowers with up to 200 fruits that eventually become one multiple fruit. A single pineapple is, in essence, many berries stuck together. Another trivia fact is that pineapples are pollinated by hummingbirds or bats, but nowadays it’s also performed by hand.
These fruits contain bromelain – a special enzyme, i.e. protein that can break down other proteins. This characteristic is often utilized by cooks who prepare marinades in order to tenderize their meats. But let’s leave this case aside and concentrate on a really important question – what shall one do with all those pineapple scraps left after peeling the fruit?
Tossing in a trash can is always an easy way out, but we don’t like easy, do we? We like moderately easy. And here’s one to that – no-cook pineapple syrup. Just take the core, all tiny bits and butts from the fruit you’ve just peeled and sliced, mix them with brown sugar (try to find the one with high molasses content like turbinado), lemon rind and one star anise. Put into a bowl, cover and let stand for 4 (or up to 10) hours, mixing sporadically. If you want, you can use only sugar and scraps – a recipe nobody can screw too bad! When ready, strain into a nice glass bottle. Add a touch of vodka if you plan to use this syrup in your homemade cocktails, but don’t forget about it, when you kid will ask to add some into morning porridge.
Speaking of morning, when was the last time when you indulged yourself with a grilled cheese sandwich ceremony? We’re not going to teach you how to do it, or any other sandwich for that matter, but just imagine – you melt some butter in a skillet, adding a few slices of pineapple, sauteing until browned, you add more butter and cook bread slices, you assemble everything: bread (grilled side up), cheese, ham, pineapple, another cheese, another bread (grilled side down). More butter in a skillet! You are now frying the other sides of the bread and waiting until cheese melts and you could bite into this salty, crunchy, umami, sweet, delicious treat right from the oven. One minute and it’s gone.
And now go to work.