Sunday, 15 January 2012

chicha de piña (spiced pineapple drink)

This recipe is a perfect end to my seven days of pineapple because it gives you something to do with all the pineapple skins and core that you’d otherwise throw away or compost.

I had heard of this Ecuadorian drink before, but since it’s traditionally fermented I’d given it a wide berth. Home fermentations make me a little uneasy with their potential to explode and spray their contents everywhere. In a small apartment, this is not an ideal outcome.

But I discovered Layla’s recipe and she explained that although the traditional chicha is fermented, there are many lighter and easier versions of chicha commonly made and drunk in Ecuador. This is one.

The pineapple scraps are boiled with water, spices and panela, which is unrefined whole cane sugar made from evaporating sugarcane juice. Layla’s blog has a detailed and pleasantly idyllic description of how panela is made in the town she grew up in.

Panela is sold in small cone-shaped pieces in Latin American grocers, but if you can’t find any then Indian/Sri Lankan jaggery is a very similar product.

Layla’s recipe is a fresh chicha, although her blog post also contains instructions on how to make a fermented version if you are more game than I am.

I drank this both hot and cold. It’s a lovely refreshing cold drink on a warm day, but an even ,ore unusual and comforting warmer on a cold winter evening. Highly recommended either way.

Chicha de Piña (Ecuadorian spiced pineapple drink)

Adaptation of Layla’s recipe. Makes 2 litres.

Skin, core and scraps of 1 (well-washed) pineapple
125g panela
2 litres water
2 cassia quills (or cinnamon)
2 cloves
4 allspice berries
(500ml pineapple juice, optional)


1. Combine all of the ingredients in large saucepan

2. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

3. Drink hot or cold, but strain before serving.

Note: I added about 500ml of fresh pineapple juice to the final product, just to make it punchier.

Pineapples supplied by the team at King of Fruit


  1. What an unusual drink, I am so glad you shared this as I have never heard of it before. And I really enjoyed the week of pineapple recipes you delivered here.

    1. Thanks Anna, it was pretty fun coming up with/making some of the more unusual recipes.

  2. What a GREAT series on Pineapples. This drink is especially refreshing. I just did a post about Pineapple a few days ago. Anna, would you mind very much if I included this link in my resource section?

    Thanks so much for sharing...

    1. thanks! it was fun pulling it all together.
      sorry for the delayed response! and if it's not too late, include-away.

  3. Love pineapples, and I'd love to use up the skins in something like this. Does it taste very... for lack of a better word... pineappley? Or is the flavor hidden behind the spices?

    1. it does taste quite pineapple-y but i made it even more so with some extra fresh pineapple juice. you wouldn't really need that though.

  4. Nice twist with the pineapple. Love the thought of cloves and allspice berries in there. Thanks for sharing


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