Guarapo, Venezuela’s homemade pineapple cooler
A folkloric recipe for a light, refreshing, alcoholic drink.
I was in the 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 market pineapples alone, but bought a nice ripe one from the grocer close to home. My husband and Little One devoured the fruit, but I kept the fragrant rinds for my own treat.
- 1 medium pineapple
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 slices of fresh ginger root
- 2 liters water
- 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
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.
Cut the peels off the pineapple, 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.
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 times 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, darn it.
It’s somewhat alcoholic. I can’t tell you how much alcohol by volume 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.
Related Topics: Drinks and smoothies