Yes, You Can Freeze Leftover Canned Pineapple

When choosing between canned food and fresh produce, canned food can occasionally be the better option when it comes to convenience and affordability. Harvested at their peak, canned fruit and vegetables retain flavor and quality even after sitting in your pantry for a year. The canning process preserves nutrients like a time capsule, making canned fruit and veggies just as much a nutritious choice; that is, if the can doesn't contain additives. When it comes to pineapple, for example, whether you prefer it in chunks, rings, or crushed, keeping a can in your pantry means you'll always have tasty options on hand.

Even though canned pineapple is a more manageable option than cutting fresh fruit, occasionally, you'll have some leftovers. Before throwing anything away, though, it's good to know that both canned and fresh pineapple freeze beautifully. If the pineapple is canned in juice, store the fruit and juice separately, removing them both from the can. (You can fill ice cube trays with juice and use them in smoothies, marinades, or cocktails.)

To freeze canned pineapple, place the drained fruit in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze the tray for one to two hours until the pieces are solid, then transfer to a resealable container, pushing out the excess air. This will enable you to remove only what you need to use at any time rather than defrosting the entire package. Frozen food can stay in the freezer indefinitely, but its quality will deteriorate over time, so it's suggested to use it within a year.

What to look for when buying canned pineapple

Canned pineapple is an indispensable ingredient in your pantry for sweet and savory recipes alike. It can be enjoyed directly out of the can or used to sweeten roasts, pizzas, and desserts. It's a reliable ingredient offering good quality and uniform pieces, ensuring that your pineapple upside down cake is consistently delicious.

When shopping, look for canned pineapple in water, which is more nutritious. This gives you more control over the recipe, adjusting the sweetness if necessary. Also, opt for brands packed in their juices that contain no added sugar. Pineapple is naturally sweet, so avoid cans that list light or heavy syrup in the ingredients.

It's important to avoid buying dented, rusty, or swollen cans since these can be signs that air and bacteria, such as botulism, have entered the can. If you notice these visual cues on cans already in your pantry, wrap them in a plastic bag to prevent animals from eating them and throw them away. Don't bother taste tasting since even a small amount of botulism can make you sick. High-acid fruit in a can, like pineapple, has a shelf-life of up to 18 months. If your canned pineapple is approaching its expiration date, remove the contents and properly freeze the pineapple. Do not freeze the fruit in the can, however, as it can swell or explode.

How to use leftover canned pineapple

When deciding how to use your leftover frozen pineapple, there's one major factor to keep in mind — texture. The fruit will still taste as sweet as when you stored it, but frozen fruit naturally gets mushier when thawed as the pineapple's cell walls expand and fracture when frozen. For this reason, dishes where the pineapple is used raw, like fruit salads and salsas, are better prepared with fresh fruit. 

Pulled directly from the freezer, frozen pineapple adds sweetness and thickness to smoothies. It can also be used to make a one-ingredient sorbet; just pulse frozen pineapple in a food processor or blender until it has a slushie consistency, then place the sorbet into the freezer until firm. If you're looking for something creamier, add a can of sweetened condensed milk or coconut cream for a frozen piña colada (for the adults, add a little rum, too). 

Defrosted pineapple chunks and rings are best used for cooking. Add the rings to garnish your baked ham, or use the syrup as a meatball glaze. Defrosted pineapple chunks can be used when preparing kabobs as their sweet flavor pairs well with chicken and pork, and their sugar caramelizes on the grill, adding depth to the dish. Caramelized pineapple is also delicious on vanilla ice cream, adding to the many reasons to keep some in the freezer.