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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tips for Making Pineapple Jam

This post is rather late as the lunar Chinese New Year (CNY) is just 5 days away. I have been busy with my orders and couldn't find time for this write up. Stealing some time now to get this done. I hope this post can be of some help this year or the next CNY.

For those who want to cook pineapple jam instead of using store bought jam, here are the tips I have gathered from my own experience. Below is a list of pros and cons of cooking your own jam.

Pros :
1. No preservatives and stabilisers
2. No flour added to thicken the jam
3. You control the sweetness of the jam
4. You control the consistency of the jam
5. You control what spices you want to use and how much you want to use

Cons :
1. Prepare to stand at stove for at least 2 hours
2. You sweat buckets
3. Risk getting scalded
4. You don't know when to stop cooking the jam
5. Risk burning the jam
6. You need to hand-grate the pineapples

I have never used store bought jam but the feedbacks I got from friends who do, weren't that great. Either the jam is not fragrant enough, no bite, too hard and dry or too sweet. Based on these feedbacks, I will explain why I did my pineapple jam my way.

There are many pineapple jam recipes online, so I won't elaborate here. The basic recipe is of course, pineapples, sugar and spices, if you like. You shouldn't add flour to thicken your jam at all. Taste is subjective to each individual so do not follow the recipe blindly.

Things you need to cook pineapple jam
1) Stainless steel or glass bowl (to collect grated pineapples)
2) Stainless steel or glassware for cooking
3) A wooden spoon (I dedicate 1 wooden spoon solely for cooking pineapple jam
4) A grater
5) A pair of gloves (to protect your hands from the acidity)
6) A corer or back of spoon to 'blind' the pineapples (I dig out those 'eyes' instead of cutting)
7) A lot of patience
8) Water to hydrate yourself
9) Some upbeat music for this monotonous work (at times, I sing along with Enka too)

*Picture Added

Many recipes likes to use unripe or half-ripe pineapples. My personal concoction uses half-ripe and ripe pineapples. Half-ripe pineapples will provide the 'bite' while ripe pineapples will provide the fragrance. Just like cookies and cakes will emit the aroma to tell you they are done, ripe fruits give out fragrance to tell you they are ripe and ready to be eaten. If you cook unripe, half-ripe and ripe pineapples separately, you'll get what I mean. Also, I do not strain the juice of the grated pineapples. Yes, it will take longer to cook the jam, but the full flavour is retained.

I used cinnamon and cloves for my jam. Traditional Nyonya pineapple tarts use star anise too. Alhough I might have some minute Nyonya blood somewhere along my ancestral line but I am a Teochew too. And to Teochews, we use star anise for braised duck or pig trotters. So I never gotten use to the idea of adding star anise. If you dislike the smell of these spices, you can just cook the jam with sugar. But at least give the cloves a go; it does go very well with pineapples. I will use 2 cloves for 1 pineapple.

*Picture added

As mentioned, half-ripe or unripe pineapples will give you more fibre, thus the 'bite'. Do not blend the pineapples with a food processor, always use a grate to grate it coarsely. During cooking, the grated pineapples will dehydrate and shrink. Do not grate the core of the pineapples in attempt to increase the volume. The core even after being grated, will remain quite coarse and fibrous. Personally, I do not like the texture.

Cooking fruits can be tricky as they have sugar content. Though pineapples are mostly sour, it does contain sugar. During heating, it will break down to fructose. When the juice evaporates, the fructose will be left behind. Adding sugar is a must to preserve the jam. I usually add 70% of the sugar the recipe stated and taste the jam before slowly adding more sugar if required. I used 65g of sugar to 1 pineapple as a guide. I only add sugar when the pineapples started to dry up. The chemical composition of sugar is made of of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen. When heated, sugar will breakdown in to water and carbon, thus causing the jam to caramelise. The jam should be sticky with a golden hue. It should not be too dark.

The tricky part of cooking the jam is knowing when to stop. If you are making an open-faced tart, you need the jam moist. If you are making closed tarts, the jam cannot be too wet or it will be difficult to handle during wrapping. For me, I am clumsy with closed tarts. I only make open-faced tarts. I cook the jam till it coats the wooden spoon and the jam doesn't fall off the spoon immediately. However, when you flick the spoon, some jam should fall off. I'm sorry if you find this description vague. You need to cook it to experience it. After the jam is being cooled, remove the spices and store the jam in a container. It should be refrigerated till ready to use.

In my haste yesterday, I forgot to mention that you should use a pot which is wide. The bigger the area, the faster the evaporation. This will help to cook the jam faster. But don't go greedy and cook too much jam at a time.

Have fun! 頑張ってね~~


Carrie said...


I saw from your pictures and seems like you've quite a big tube of pineapple paste.. How many pineapples u used?

I use 9 honey pineapples and boy, it yields a miserable amount of pineapple paste, any idea what goes wrong?

Please advice!



Yuri said...

Hey Rei, thanks for sharing your experience, now I get the idea of what went "wrong", I lacked patience... and since i added pineapples to store bought jam, i suspect there wasn't enough sugar (or cooking) to carmelise the jam. happy niu year!

Edith said...

Good job Rei, this is extremely informative. Thanks for sharing with us.

Wishing you Good Health, Joy and Happiness for this coming Lunar New Year.

Rei said...

Carrie : Honey pineapples have more water content. If you chose those over-riped, you will yield a lot of juice but little pulp. I cook 6 pineapples at a time, it should yield about 1.25kg of jam.

Yuri & Edith : You're welcome. Happy 牛 year to you too!

youfei said...

Hi Rei,

I have also been using honey pineapples. My jam usually ends up darker than yours even though i put the sugar in last..

What kind of pineapples do you suggest using?


Rei said...

Youfei : Honey pineapples, besides having higher water content, sugar content is higher too. Having a darker colour because it has caramelised. I use a mixture of honey pineapples (ripe) and the usual pineapples (half ripe) from Malaysia. The pineapples are lighter in colour and not as sweet.

Katherine said...

hey rei! i always swear by cooking my own pineapple jam but in the end had not choice to use the store bought ones. after cooking 60 pineapples i only got like less than 20kg of jam. dunno why these year's pineapples are super sweet but bloody small. was wondering if you sell your pineapple jams? then next year i can get it from you =)

Passionate About Baking said...

Hi Rei,
Thanks a lot for sharing your experience. It sure proves to be useful for people who has no experience in cooking the pineapple jam. I've tried cooking it once, but I guess I could never have expressed it out as well as you do! I shall print a copy of your experience to keep for future use! Happy Lunar New Year!

terri@adailyobsession said...

this is great info. i've only cooked pineapple jam once n it took so long i nvr did it again. but this yr the store bought jam wasn't flavorful (wey complained) so next yr i'll def use ur recipe. thanx, n gong xi fa cai, lots of cai n health n joy to u n family!

Rei said...

Katherine : I think nothing beats homemade. I didn't sell the jam.. hmm.. maybe I'd consider.. eheh.. Happy Niu Year!

PAB : You're welcome! Happy Niu Year to you and your family too!

Terri : I wish you and your family the same and more! :D

Anonymous said...

i cooked my own too every year. if you cook for the closed ones, it can be wetter but if those for the open ones, it must be just nice because too wet, it will overflow, too dry it will dry even more during baking.

thanks for your tips i think i can help to improve mine.

Happy Chinese New year. beautiful cookies you make.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rei,

Happy Niu Year to you & your family. May I know what is cloves?

Do you know where I can get them from? What is the food Processor machine & grate machine look like? Can I use the juice blender for the pineapple?

Please advise. Thank you.


Rei said...

Nee : Happy New Year to you! Thanks for sharing your tip about the closed tarts.

Mixue : Happy New Year to you too! Sorry for the late reply as I'm seldom online during weekends. I'll take picture of the cloves and grater (mandoline) to show you. Do not use juice blender/food processor for the pineapples. The pulp will be too fine.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rei,

That will be great! But take your time no hurry. I will check it out from your blog for the picture.

Thank you so much for your help.


Anonymous said...

Hi Rei

Will it be too much to ask from you the recipe for the pastry too?


Rei said...

Flo : I would love to but I don't have my mom's permission to do so. She's probably strangle me if I did. However, you could refer to this recipe It's pretty close. HTH.

Rei said...

Mixue : I have uploaded the pics of grater/mandolin and cloves for you.

Anonymous said...


Thank you.


Unknown said...

We made jam from 15 honey pineapples and drained a large amount of juice, also after cooking it for 5 hours, there was still juice which we drained and boiled down separately before adding the sticky residue back to the pineapple. We used organic brown sugar to sweeten at the end. The tarts tasted really good but after two days, they were soaked thru by the pineapple. What a disaster - espeiclaly as we had given them to friends!
How does one tell if the pineapple jam is dry enough? Tks