Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fruit Cup

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I’m embarrassed it’s taken me this long to make a drinking vessel out of a pineapple.

It really should have happened long before now. I’ve been fiddling with tiki-style drinks for well over a year, and I regularly buy whole pineapples, so it’s not like I don’t have them lying around. I’ve also attended at least a dozen Jimmy Buffett concerts, where unorthodox beverage containers abound (lawn flamingos, beer mugs made of a single piece of ice, etc.), so I really should have gotten on the stick by now.

After noticing one of the recipes in Jeff Berry’s Sippin’ Safari could be served in a pineapple, I decided to finally take the plunge. The first step was determining if there was a tried-and-true technique for transforming a large piece of fruit into a fun and functional drink container.

Turns out there isn’t one. Or more accurately, I couldn’t find one. The first thing I did was to contact some of the big brains in the booze nerd community and see what they do. I was surprised to find that most of the people I spoke to hadn’t yet attempted it, and the responses from those who had essentially boiled down to “Cut the top off, and scoop out the insides.”

I also did a little poking around on the web, but that was slim pickings too. There’s a promising-looking gadget designed specifically for taking the guts out of a pineapple, but the reviews were mixed. It appeared that I was headed for trial-and-error territory.

Now I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to make things more complicated than they need to be, so I stuck close to the “cut off the top and scoop out the insides” method . I’ve made many jack-o-lanterns over the years, so my reasoning was that this would probably be pretty much the same, albeit on a smaller scale and with contents you’d actually want to eat.

I discovered that things shook out to be basically a three-step process:

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1) Slice off the top. I cut horizontally about 1.5 to 2 inches below the leaves. If you want a wider, shorter cup, just make your cut farther down. I used my trusty Chinese vegetable knife, but feel free to use the cutting tool of your choice (machete, katana, chainsaw, etc.)

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2) Outline a cavity. Run a small knife (I found a grapefruit knife works well) in a circular path near the outside of the pineapple. I recommend you don’t make this cut right up against the rind. Leave at least a half-inch of “meat.”- It’ll add strength to the cup once it’s hollowed out.

Also, this is the step when you’ll discover pineapples are surprisingly soft. Despite their rough exterior, they’re very easy to puncture. I immediately put a hole in mine even though I was trying to be as gentle and deliberate as I could.

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3) Shovel out the insides. I used a stainless steel salad spoon, but any rigid, scoop-like implement without sharp edges or corners will probably do the trick. The core in the center will give you the most resistance, but you can use your small knife from step 2 to carefully carve out any stubborn bits.

Like step 2, there’s a bit of guesswork involved here. Just make sure you don’t scoop too deep or too close to the sides, otherwise you‘ll be creating an organic dribble glass.


Optional step: If you want to keep the top to use as a lid, just cut a small notch in the edge for a straw and replace it. You can fasten it to the bottom with a toothpick or cocktail umbrella.




As for the drink itself, I went with the Pina Paradise, from the aforementioned Sippin’ Safari.

Pina Paradise

½ oz. Fresh lime juice
½ oz. Grapefruit juice
½ oz. Orange juice
1/4 oz. Sugar syrup
¾ oz. Gold Puerto Rican rum (I substituted Cruzan)
¾ oz. Martinique rum (I used St. James Royal Ambre)
2 one-inch-square chucks of fresh pineapple
Dash Angostura bitters
6 drops (1/8 teaspoon) almond extract

Place in a blender, without ice, and blend at high speed until pineapple is liquefied. Pour into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well, then pour into a hollowed-out pineapple or tiki mug.



It’s not bad. The rums come through pretty well (especially the Martinique) despite the number of other ingredients. The grapefruit, orange, pineapple and lime do well as a fruit base, and the almond extract is a nice touch- Although I may have to make this again and see what happens if I substitute orgeat.

Overall, it’s a tasty but not particularly remarkable drink. I found it a bit flat, but the Bamboo Babe loved it, so I’ll keep it in the rotation. But in the future, when I’m making another pineapple cup, I’ll likely opt to fill it with a Painkiller or something with a bit more oomph.



To wrap up, here’s a breakdown of my pros & cons for drinking out of a pineapple:

Cons:

Expense. Where I live, whole pineapples run between 4-5 bucks apiece. That can easily be a prohibitive cost depending on how many people you’re serving.

Labor. The time you spend making the cup detracts from time you can be drinking.

Flavor Factor. Whatever drink you put in the cup will be flavored with pineapple to some degree.

Weight. Even a hollowed-out pineapple can get a little heavy and unwieldy after a while.


Pros:

No-Slip Grip. The rind of a pineapple is a natural high-friction surface. If you drop it, it’s not the pineapple’s fault- you probably should have stopped two drinks ago.

Environmentally Friendly. Pineapples are biodegradeable, so when you’re done, compost it, chuck it in the woods, or simply drop it through the sunroof of your snooty neighbor’s Mercedes.

Edible. You can eat what you’ve hollowed out.

Style Factor. I mean, you’re drinking out of a pineapple…how cool is that?


So give it a shot- It’s not as tough as it might look, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun. And as always, tips, advice, cautionary tales, etc., are welcome.

16 comments:

Ben said...

I've done the pineapple cup thing twice, and both times, I did roughly what you described. I usually found the core to be the hardest part to get out, and I was excited when I saw that they have a pineapple-coring gadget, but I haven't tried it out yet, either.

I think the taste added is minimal, but it is so cool to drink out of a pineapple. Kind of like the ultimate garnish.

Dr. Bamboo said...

"The Ultimate Garnish". I like it. The United Pineapple Council (or whatever organization is responsible for promoting pineapple sales) should consider adopting that as their new slogan.

nerdling said...

That is, hands down, my absolute favorite illustration you've done for the site. Hahahahahahaha!

Dr. Bamboo said...

Note to self: Include portly executioner in all future drawings.

Anita said...

we have one of those pineapple-gutting gizmos, and it works pretty well. it has the benefit of leaving the pineapple pieces intact, so you can use them for upside-down cake. :)

This is the one we have:
Vacu Vin Pineapple Slicer

MrBaliHai said...

Try substituting about 1/4 oz. Macadamia Nut Liqueur for the almond extract.

Dr. Bamboo said...

Anita- I'll make a point to give that thing a try (now that I have your glowing endorsement!).

Mr. BH- I'd LOVE to lay my hands on some Macadamia nut liqueur, but I'm fairly certain there isn't a bottle to be found in all of Pennsylvania.

And there's not enough space here to list all the reasons why special ordering it would be more hassle than it's worth (and probably wouldn't tbe succesful anyway)

nerdling said...

Shall I add macadamia liqueur to the list? They have it everywhere here...

Kaiser Penguin said...

Craig,

Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. I am loathe to admit that I have yet to use a pineapple as a mug too; how embarrassing.

I can bring some Macadamia Nut Liqueur to tales if you'd like. My Hawaii source is quite helpful for such things.

Dr. Bamboo said...

Marleigh & Rick- Thanks for the offers! I'll get in touch with you both.

djweso said...

I've been dieing to make pineapple cups for a while and saw them on sale Friday buy-get-one-free. I was off to a good start :)

Unfortunately I had to a bunch of substituting because I did not prepare the way I should have. The drink was tasty but not outstanding with all of the subs (too many to list, *sigh*). However, Who care??!!
We were drinking it out of pineapples cups !!!!

Thanks for the great pics, directions and inspiration. Here is a pic of my wife and mother enjoying the Pina Paradise!

http://twitpic.com/h0zt

J. said...

OK...so I went one step further. First I made a spiked pineapple THEN made the cup. I cut out the core with out going thru the bottom. Loosened the meat slightly from the rind. Stabbed holes at a 45 degree downward angle in the meat with a skewer without penetrating the rind. Filled with pineapple rum. Refilled with more rum in the morning for two more days. Then after making a tray of spiked cubes made the guest of honor use resulting cup! It is much the same idea of a drunk melon.

Anonymous said...

I think the taste added is minimal, but it is so cool to drink out of a pineapple. Kind of like the ultimate garnish.

Pineapple decapitator said...

Is this like a one time use, Or can I reuse the cup later??

Anonymous said...

like your instructions. my sister and I were going to have one in Vegas last year till we found out they were $25.00 each. She \is coming to visit in a few weeks. going to make her one. shell get a laugh out of it. will frozen daquires work? Im basically lazy.

CocktailRecipes said...

Love this tiki idea. Check out www.cocktailcodex.com for more some classic drink ideas to put in these pineapples!
Cheers to you!