Canning zucchini in pineapple juice is a unique way to preserve zucchini, and is one of the few USDA-approved recipes for canning zucchini at home. Zucchini pineapple or “mock pineapple” is a delicious tropical snack, and it’s wonderful in baked goods (or eaten right out of the jar).
Ok, I know what you’re thinking, why on earth would you want to can zucchini in pineapple juice?
Well, there are a few good reasons, believe it or not.
First, zucchini is incredibly versatile, and it takes on the flavors in it’s surrounding environment. Add in the right spices, and you can make a “mock apple pie” with zucchini, as they did in the great depression and out on the prairie in the pioneer days (before apple trees were planted). When you can zucchini in pineapple juice, it takes on the flavor and sweetness of the pineapple, and you basically turn an ordinary vegetable into a tropical fruit…that’s hard to tell apart from the real thing.
Second, though zucchini plants are prolific in the garden, it’s incredibly difficult to preserve them. They produce like crazy, and spoil just as fast. They’re not great for freezing, and dehydrating’s a mixed bag too. Since they’re a vegetable, they’d generally need to be pressure canned, but they’re soft and tend to fall apart during cooking. For that reason, there’s only one approved pressure canning recipe for zucchini, and it involves canning zucchini with tomatoes (which increases the acidity, and basically makes a zucchini pasta sauce).
Water bath canning works, provided they’re either pickled (as in zucchini pickles or zucchini relish), or they’re canned in a very acidic fruit juice, namely zucchini in pineapple juice.
So if you’re not up for any more pickles, and zucchini in tomato sauce isn’t your thing, try your hand at this tasty zucchini pineapple for a really unique treat right from the garden. It tastes more or less exactly like home-canned pineapple, which is pretty amazing from our northern garden well outside the tropics!
Preparing Zucchini Pineapple
The first step to making zucchini pineapple is deciding whether or not you want it diced or shredded. Shredded is quick and easy, and basically makes something like crushed pineapple. It’s perfect for using in place of crushed pineapple in cake and bread recipes, or topping desserts.
My kids really love eating pineapple chunks right out of the jar, so I’m making diced zucchini pineapple.
Peeling the zucchini is optional, but if you leave the peels on, the’ll be green in the jar. That’s totally fine, but it kind of ruins the illusion of eating pineapple and if you’re hoping to trick your kids with this one, you’ll want to peel the zucchini.
Cut the zucchini into 1/2 inch cubes, or as I’ve done, triangles that more closely resembles the shape of diced pineapple. You can do that by first slicing the zucchini, and then cutting each slice like a pie.
Prepare a water bath canner at this point, and bring the water up to a simmer (around 180 F). Prepare jars and lids as well.
This is a hot pack canning recipe, so you’ll need to put the diced (or shredded) zucchini in a saucepan and cook it with the pineapple juice before canning.
Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. This ensures that the zucchini is fully cooked, and more importantly, ensures that the flavor and acidity of the pineapple juice penetrate all the way through to the center of the zucchini before canning. For canning safely, it’s important that everything be acidic all the way through before the canning process starts.
Canning Zucchini Pineapple
Once you’ve pre-cooked the zucchini in pineapple juice, pack it into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Be sure that you have enough pineapple juice in the jars to submerge the zucchini completely.
Load the jars into a water bath canner and bring the canner up to a full rolling boil. Process the zucchini pineapple for 15 minutes for half pints and pints, adjusting for altitude. For altitudes above 1000 feet but below 6,000 feet, use 20 minutes. Once above 6,000 feet, the processing time is 25 minutes. See table below.
Once the canning time is complete, turn off the heat and allow the jars to sit in the canner for another 5 minutes before removing them to cool on a towel on the counter. This extra pre-cooling time in the canner helps prevent siphoning when the jars are removed from the canner.
Ways to Use Zucchini Pineapple
Once you’ve canned zucchini pineapple, you can use it just about anywhere you’d use canned pineapple. It’s wonderful in baked goods, especially if you use the grated zuccini shape. I like dice, which works wonderfully as a topping or eaten right out of the jar.
It’s nice in baked goods too, but it’s also lovely in savory dishes, like Thai curry or pineapple chicken.
Zucchini Canning Recipes
Need a few more zucchini canning recipes?
Zucchini pineapple is a unique way to preserve zucchini in a water bath canner. The result is a tropical flavored fruit-like preserve that's much like home-canned pineapple.
- 16 cups (4 quarts) cubed or shredded zucchini
- 5 3/4 cups (46 oz) canned unsweetened pineapple juice
- 1½ cups bottled lemon juice
- 3 cups sugar
- Prepare a water bath canner before beginning, and bring it up to 180 degrees F for hot pack canning.
- Wash and peel zucchini, then either shred or dice into 1/2 inch cubes.
- Bring the zucchini, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and sugar to a simmer in a stock pot. Simmer for 20 minutes (this is not optional, it ensures the zucchini is fully acidified before canning).
- Pack the zucchini pineapple into canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. (Pints or half pints) Seal to finger tight with 2 part canning lids.
- Load the jars into a water bath canner and bring the canner up to a full rolling boil.
- Process jars in a water bath canner for 15 minutes (below 1,000 feet in elevation), adjusting for altitude. See notes for higher altitudes.
- Once the canning time is complete, turn off the heat and allow the canner to cool for 5 minutes before using a jar lifter to remove the jars to cool on a towel on the counter.
- After 24 hours, check seals and store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use.
- Properly canned and sealed jars of zucchini pineapple will maintain peak quality on the pantry shelf for 12 to 18 months.
This recipe is tested in half-pint and pint-sized jars. Do not use larger jars, but smaller quarter pint-sized jars are fine.
- 0 to 1,000 feet in elevation - process for 15 minutes
- 1,001 to 6,000 feet in elevation - process for 20 minutes
- 6,001 or higher feet in elevation - process for 25 minutes
The sugar in this recipe is designed to balance the acidity of the lemon juice required to acidify the zucchini, and to make it taste as sweet as canned pineapple. The sugar is not required for preservation, and you can reduce it to suit your tastes. You can also substitute other canning-safe sweeteners.
Bottled Lemon Juice and Pineapple Juice
This recipe is specifically tested with bottled lemon juice and bottled pineapple juice, which are standardized for acidity. You cannot use fresh juice for either of those, as they can vary in acidity and may not result in a safe canned product.
That said, I think this recipe tastes much better if you use bottled lemon juice and bottled pineapple juice that has been "bottled" in glass rather than tin cans. Tinning highly acidic things in metal make them taste bit metallic, and I think the same goes for bottled lemon juice in plastic; it just doesn't taste as good. Look in the juice aisle in the supermarket, and you'll find both juices in glass bottles.
Summer Canning Recipes
Looking for more delicious canning recipes using summer produce?
- 12+ Corn Canning Recipes
- Canning Peaches
- Canning Blackberries
- Canning Plums
- Canning Blueberries
- Canning Cherries
Vegetable Canning Recipes
There’s more than one way to preserve summer veggies!