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Panamanian Recipes Part 2: Arroz con Piña Drink

Pineapples from around the world
Pineapples from around the world
Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

When you travel to Panama you will enjoy a number of different kinds of beverages, several of which are made from fruits grown right near the site where you are staying. One of my favorites is called arroz con piña, or directly translated to rice with pineapple. More appropriately, it is a pineapple drink with rice.

The recipe below was written down while watching a woman local to central Panama prepare the beverage for her family. In general, family recipes are not written down but simply passed from mother to daughter. This is one of the beverages served at La MICA Biological Station and regularly enjoyed by the people of rural Panama.

Arroz con Piña Beverage

Serves: 4-6

Prep & Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Peel and core from 1 large or 2 small pineapples
  • 2 cups white rice, washed
  • 1 small can condensed milk
  • 7-8 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Preparation:

  1. Place the peel and any unused portion of the fruit (cores or left over pieces) in a pot and fill the pot with enough water so that the peel is covered. Heat the peels and water.
  2. As the water warms add two cups of uncooked, white rice (do not use instant rice). Cook the mixture until the rice is soft and ready to eat.
  3. Allow the peel, water, and rice to cool. Then, place the contents of the pot in a blender and blend until the peel is chopped into small pieces. Use a strainer to collect the liquid in a pitcher. The small amount of remaining peel and rice will be discarded (compost if you have a composting pile).
  4. To the liquid add a small amount of milk or a small can of condensed milk.
  5. Add seven or eight tablespoons of white sugar (or to a taste that you like).
  6. Add a splash of vanilla or almond extract, if desired.
  7. Stir and serve. You also can chill the beverage in the refrigerator and serve cold.
  8. Enjoy!

Next time you buy a pineapple, remember that you don't have to throw away all the peel and the core; you can make a delicious beverage for your family and give them a little taste of Panama at home!