Spiced Pineapple Jam (Pineapple Tart Filling): Nothing beats homemade pineapple jam where you can take ultimate control to get your preferred texture, sweetness level and spice flavour. This recipe teaches you how to make your own pineapple jam from scratch using 5 ingredients: fresh ripened honey pineapples, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and star anise. And it is super duper delicious and very satisfying to make!
With Chinese New Year just around the corner, most people are sniffing around (pun intended!) for the best pineapple tarts in town as gifts or to enjoy at home. However, even a small box of pineapple tarts can set you back by upwards of $20, so why not make your own pineapple tarts this year for a change?
Not only will it save you money, you get to take ultimate control over the texture, sweetness and spiced flavour. And your family and friends will love you for the tender loving care you put in to hand-make these delectable treats. That’s something that even the best commercial versions can never compete with!
The traditional method of making pineapple jam calls for using fresh ripened pineapples. We like to use Malaysian Honey Pineapples. You can get these at NTUC or other supermarkets at around $0.80 for a small pineapple (800g) or $1.70 for a medium sized one (1kg). For tips on how to choose a ripe pineapple, read our other post here.
After buying the pineapples, we left them to stand upside down for about 1-2 days as they continued to ripen. This method (which I learnt from my local fruit seller) uses gravity to draw the sugars which are concentrated at the stem end of the pineapples into the rest of the fruit so that it will be evenly sweet and ripened. It’s pretty magical to see the pineapples which are partially ripe (yellow colouration only reaches mid-way up the pineapple) achieve a perfect beautiful and uniform yellow colouration just after 1 day of what we call ‘inversion therapy’!
To prepare the pineapple jam, first remove the skin, eyes and core of the pineapple (keeping wastage to the minimum). The eyes of the pineapple must be thoroughly removed as they are hard and inedible. The most efficient way to do this is to cut a series of v-shaped ‘trenches’ in a diagonal spiral around the pineapple. We prefer to remove the core of the pineapple as well because we find it makes the jam overly fibrous.
More Chinese New Recipes:
- Bak Kwa (Chinese Barbecued Pork Jerky)
- Ngoh Hiang (五香 / Lor Bak)
- Chinese Braised Shiitake Mushrooms (Men Dong Gu)
- Eight Treasure Celestial Duck 八宝鸭
See all Chinese New Year Recipes
We prefer the chopping method over the common blending and grating methods by far. Blending is of course the quickest and easiest, but produces a texture that is very mushy and not substantial. Grating is the most time-consuming and gives the most fibrous texture (and longest fibres). However I find that grating leads to a finer and more mushy texture as compared to chopping. Chopping gives the best control because you can choose how finely to chop the pineapples. You can even mix up finely chopped pineapples with slightly chunkier pineapple bits. This give the jam a nice substantial bite after baking. Chopping is also relatively quick to do if you have reasonable knife skills.
We usually cook the pineapple in its own juice, together with a small amount of cinnamon, cloves and star anise. Cooking the pineapple with its juices gives its an extra fragrant aroma and richer pineapple flavour, so it is a really waste to discard the juices. It should take about 30 minutes for the juices to dry up over low fire. Remember to stir frequently, to prevent the pineapple jam from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
We only add the sugar to the mixture after the first 30 minutes. The sugar not only acts as a preservative, but also gives the pineapple jam its nice golden caramelised appearance. It’s important not to add the sugar too early on, otherwise instead of a nice golden complexion you will get a very dark brown and tan colour, which is less attractive. Don’t forget that the pineapple jam will be cooked further and turn even darker during baking. Also, be careful about adjusting the sugar level, as too little sugar could result in your pineapple jam turning mouldy very quickly!
After the sugar is added, don’t be surprised that the pineapple mixture will actually turn slightly watery again. This is because the sugar causes more of the juices of the pineapple to be released. You need to cook this for another 30 minutes or until the juices dry up. Stir it constantly as it is easy to get the jam burnt at this stage. Be careful not to overcook the jam, as it will tend to become drier and stickier once it is cooled. Also it will be cooked further during the baking process, and you don’t want the jam on the pineapple tarts to be hard and dry. See recipe tips below for more details.
The resulting jam after it is cooled should look like this: golden, sticky and moist. Chill it in the fridge overnight before using them to making pineapple tart. For this recipe, we used 5 small honey pineapples which yields around 900g – 1kg of jam after accounting for wastage and reduction in the juices of the pineapple. This should give you enough jam to make around 180-250 open-faced pineapple tarts (each pineapple ball weighing 4-5g). For larger pineapple balls (6 – 8g), you will be able to make around 110 – 160 pineapple tarts. (Note: these are rough estimates only, actual number will depend on several factors including size and juicyness of pineapple, amount of wastage, etc)
Don’t forget to stay tuned for Part 2 of this recipe, where we show you how to make open-face Pineapple Tarts the way we love it, buttery and crumbly but still sturdy enough to be packed into boxes. If you like our recipe videos, please don’t forget to subscribe to our Youtube Channel here to get instant updates whenever new recipe videos are uploaded!
Nothing beats homemade spiced pineapple jam where you can take ultimate control to get your preferred texture, sweetness level and spiced flavour. This recipe teaches you how to make your own pineapple jam from scratch using 5 ingredients: fresh ripened honey pineapples, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and star anise, and it is super duper delicious and very satisfying to make!
- 5 Small Pineapples (Malaysian Honey Pineapple, 800g each) or 4 Medium pineapples (1kg each)
- 375 gm Castor Sugar
- 0.5 Cinnamon Stick
- 3 Cloves
- 0.5 Star Anise
Cut off the bottom part of the pineapple. Then stand the pineapple on the flat surface. Hold on to the stalk and remove the skin of pineapple.
Next, remove the eyes of the pineapple by cutting a v-shaped groove in an upward diagonal spiral around the pineapple, ensure that all the brown parts of the eyes are completely removed. Then give the pineapple a rinse and pat dry.
Place the pineapple upright, and cut down the middle (lengthwise). Cut each half into quarters along the length of the pineapple then remove the inner core of the pineapple.
Slice the wedges into thin slices and chop finely, then place the chopped pineapple into a big bowl. Repeat the process for the rest of the pineapples.
Heat up a stainless steel pot over low heat. Then add in the chopped pineapples, cinnamon, star anise and cloves into the pot.
- Cook for about 30 minutes or until the juices dry up, stirring frequently to prevent the pineapple tart filling from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Add in the 375 gm of sugar to the pineapple, and mix well. Continue to cook for another 30 minutes or until juices dry up, stirring the mixture even more frequently to prevent the pineapple tart filling from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Transfer the pineapple jam into a heat-proof container and allow it to cool. Once completely cooled, remove the spices and discard. Then seal the container tightly and leave in the fridge overnight before use.
- We like to use Malaysian Honey Pineapples which are quite sweet and also economical for making pineapple jam.
- Read this guide for how to choose pineapples.
- After buying the pineapples, invert them over a container so that the sugary juices in the pineapple will be spread to the top of the pineapples.
- It is important to remove all the "eyes" from the pineapples as they very spiky and rough.
- We prefer to remove the core from the pineapple as I find them very hard and fibrous. This way the pineapple jam texture will be softer and finer. However this is up to individual preference.
- We also prefer to chop the pineapple finely (rather than blending or grating) and we find the pineapple jam has more substance after cooking.
- When sugar is added to the pineapple mixture, it will actually draw out more liquid from the pineapple. Continue to cook and stir until the juices dry up again and the pineapple jam becomes dry and sticky.
- It is better to slightly undercook the pineapple jam especially if you are making open-faced pineapple tarts. Don't forget that pineapple jam gets cooked further during baking. You don't want the final product to be overcooked (too dry / too hard / too brown). A light brown, sticky but still moist texture is what you should be looking for.
- Do note that the jam tends to become even more sticky after it has cooled down, so don't cook the jam until it gets too dry.
- The cooking times indicated are estimates only and may vary depending on various factors (e.g. size of pineapples, how juicy they are, how strong your heat source as every stove is different, pot used etc.) The best gauge of whether the pineapple jam is done is to ensure it is dry enough (no visible pools of liquid when tilt to the side). If it is not dry enough, the pineapple jam will turn mouldy quickly.
- If you find that the jam is too wet even after it has cooled down, you can simply cook it for another few minutes. If the jam is too wet, it will be very difficult to shape into balls to make the tarts.
- However, if the jam turns out too dry after it has cooled down, please don't simply add water, as this will cause the jam to turn mouldy. Instead, you will need to cook another small batch of pineapple jam and combine it with the batch that is too dry. This is much more work of course, so the key is remember not to overcook the pineapple jam in the first place.
- The sugar in the pineapple jam acts as a preservative, so please be careful not to reduce the sugar as it can lead to your pineapple jam turning mouldy very quickly.
Suggested Modifications for Special Diets
- Child-Friendly: No modifications needed.
- Fish-Free: No modifications needed.
- Nut-Free: No modifications needed.
- Shellfish-Free: No modifications needed.
- Vegetarian: No modifications needed