Pineapple weed liqueur is made with a common plant that grows just about everywhere, and tastes like pineapple! It’s easy to make, and captures the essence and smell of wild chamomile. With its tropical flavors, it makes a great base for summery beverages. It’s a sweet way to celebrate this humble wildflower that grows right under our feet.
What is pineapple weed?
Pineappleweed (Matricaria discoidea) is a wildflower that can be found across nearly all of North America. It’s also called ‘wild chamomile’. This weed reminds me of my childhood because we used to suck on the flowers for their sweet taste.
The flowers have a sweet, fruity, pineapple-like smell when crushed between your fingers. They taste like a cross between pineapple and chamomile.
It’s a nervine and relative of German chamomile.
It’s a relative of German chamomile and shares many of the same medicinal benefits as a relaxing nervine.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy wild chamomile is in a cup of tea. You can harvest it and dry it for later,
or make tea with the fresh flowers.
Unlike chamomile, which has beautiful white petals, pineapple weed flowers have no petals. The flowers are dome-shaped and are bright greenish-yellow. The leaves are feathery, and the plant thrives in dry climates and poor soils. Though it will grow quite tall and have larger flowers if grown in richer soil (it loves to take over fallow gardens here in Northern California).
Note: Some people are allergic to pineapple weed. When first consuming, try a little bit and wait a day. If no symptoms appear, you’re probably good to go!
Where can you find pineapple weed?
Pineapple weed grows just about everywhere in North America and beyond. It grows in large numbers and is commonly found both in rural and urban areas. You can commonly find it growing in dry soils near roads, sidewalks, gardens, lawns, and parks.
It needs very little water to grow and thrives in dry climates with poor soils. However, it will grow even taller and have much larger ‘flowers’ in richer soil. That makes it easier to harvest in large quantities.
Here in Northern California spreads rapidly and loves to take over gardens in spring!
How do you harvest pineapple weed?
Like chamomile, the part of the plant you want is the flowerhead. The best way to harvest them is by using scissors to cut the flowers off. Choose the larger flowers that are more yellow than green.
The greener ones are older and don’t have as strong of a pineapple flavor. Crush or taste a few while harvesting, to make sure they taste sweet. They should not taste bitter at all.
Harvesting the flowers does not kill the plant, as long as you leave a few unopened buds on the stem. If you need to sustainably harvest over several days, you can store the flowers in a jar in the fridge.
How do you make pineapple weed liqueur?
Making pineapple liqueur is so easy, and only takes 2-3 days before it’s ready. I searched several recipes, and most call for doing a two-part infusion using sugar and alcohol. I wanted to use honey instead of sugar since I love floral infused honey.
The first part is to extract the flavor with alcohol. Vodka is a good choice of alcohol to use because it lets the pineapple really shine through. White rum is another popular choice to use.
The other part is to make a pineapple weed infused honey. Honey draws out different aromas and flavors than alcohol, so when you combine the two at the end, it takes it to another level!
4 cups pineapple weed
2-3 cups vodka or other clear liquor of choice
1-2 cups honey
Forage Pineapple Weed
To make liqueur, you will need about 3 to 4 cups of pineapple weed. This might seem like a lot, but pineapple weed usually grows in large quantities. So, it should only take an hour or so to harvest enough.
If you need to harvest sustainably over several days, store the flowers in a closed jar in the fridge. They will keep fresh for several days.
Make an alcohol infusion
Rinse and dry as needed. Fill a quart jar 2/3 of the way full with flowerheads and save about 1/3 of the flowers for the other jar. You will want to remove the stems and leaves without going crazy about it. The pineapple flavor is in the “pineapple” flowerhead, so that’s the part you want. Pour the vodka over the flowers until they are floating.
Cover, and shake the jar several times a day to help extract the flavors. Open the jar and smell. By day 2 or 3 it should smell like pineapple. The vodka will also turn a clear yellow color, and the flowers will lose some of their green color.
Make a honey infusion
Place the remaining flowers (I used maybe 3/4 to 1 cup for this part) in a pint jar. Cover with raw honey until the flowers are floating in the honey.
Screw the lid on, but not too tight so fermentation gases can escape. You’ll notice that some of the flowers ‘float’ to the top. This is fine, just flip the jar upside down (don’t forget to shut it tightly first) a couple times a day, and the honey will coat everything.
The flowers will shrink a bit as the honey draws out the moisture. Within 2 to 3 days, the honey should taste and smell like pineapple. It’s quite delicious on its own if you fancy pineapple-flavored honey!
Strain out the flowers
Once the vodka smells like pineapple, strain out the flowers and save the liquid. Compost the spent flowers. You should end up with about 2 cups of infused vodka. You can use the pineapple weed infused vodka on its own, or take it up a level by combining it with the infused honey.
The honey should be ready around the same time, so strain that out too. I use a fine-mesh strainer and allow the honey to slowly drip through. The honey will have become more liquid, so this step goes fast.
Combine the vodka with the honey
Combine the vodka and honey together. You should have two-thirds more vodka than honey, and this is the perfect ratio. I didn’t measure the exact amounts, but it came to roughly 2 cups of infused vodka and 1 cup of honey.
The liqueur can be stored at room temperature since the alcohol and honey preserve it, but it’s tastier chilled so I store mine in the fridge. Lasts indefinitely, but it’s so tasty that it won’t last long.
Pineappleweed liqueur taste like summer and pineapple, so it mixes well in summery drinks. It’s delicious paired with sparkling white wine such as prosecco or mineral water for a refreshing summertime drink, or served over on its own over ice as a dessert!
Have you ever tried pineapple liqueur? What are your favorite ways to enjoy it?