Refreshing, packed with whole foods, a little booze and a touch of sugar, this white rum cocktail is my best Pina Colada recipe! Have a taste of the tropics with this homemade Pina Colada! vegan + gluten free *this post was updated with new photos, text and added recipe notes.
How I Discovered The Best Pina Colada Recipe:
Before we get to my best homemade Pina Colada recipe, a little back story. Traveling has a way with vivid reminders of how we’re interconnected with people, land and the wild things. Whether it’s simply traveling 100 miles away from home or across the globe, I’m always interested in culture, food and ecology and how these things interact on a local and global scale. Food is interesting to me especially from the standpoint of farming practices.
While traveling in Costa Rica we passed miles and miles of monocultured pineapple. I’d never seen so many pineapples. While beautiful pineapple plants were perfectly planted in symmetrical rows, the land itself looked sterile. No more forests, not a weed in sight…
Our guide shared that Costa Rica is one of the top exporters of pineapples worldwide, currently. He also explained one pineapple plant takes over a year to produce one pineapple fruit when grown organically. However, multinational corporations conventionally grow a pineapple in six months by applying agrochemicals. These production practices allow for increased crop yields in a shorter period of time.
That made me think of the conventional pineapple BOGO I saw on special at the store last week. What price are we willing to pay in terms of human and environmental costs for cheap pineapple? (insert x for so many other crops)
There’re great things going for Costa Rica – a few examples I learned:
- an end to single use plastics by 2020 – the one souvenir I brought back from Costa Rica is in the cocktail images – bamboo straws! Native to Costa Rica, compostable and sustainable
- whose goal is to be a carbon-neutral country by 2021 (first in the world)
- no mass highway systems because it would devastate the ecosystem, home to rich biodiversity which fuels their ecotourism economy
- they just marked their 70th anniversary since abolishing their military to instead further invest in the education and healthcare of its people
- provides universal health care to its citizens and permanent residents
But as progressive as Costa Rica is, they struggle with issues as any nation does. I couldn’t help but think about how like the US, they too have people living in the margins. Workers, some immigrant, who endure harsh working conditions, low wages and exposure to toxic chemicals to put food on our tables. And as a consumer I have a choice every time I spend a dollar at the store, or opt to buy through community supported agriculture or at the farmers market.
Because every dollar I spend on food is a vote for farming practices, sustainable or not. Pineapple is simply one example.
So, I avoid the BOGO and enjoy the single succulent pineapple that tastes sweeter, is slightly more expensive and juicier anyway. If I can’t find a fresh organically grown pineapple, I go without and look for canned (organic) or opt for locally grown fruit when in season.
A Few Homemade Pina Colada Recipe Notes:
- For the best Pina Colada of your life, look for organic pineapple. Fresh when in season! The texture and flavor are worth the effort. If out of season, look for organic canned and juice pineapple. Only one of the three stores I shop at carry organic canned, so it can be hard to find unless purchased online. I like Native Forest for chunks and crushed and Lakewood for juice (simply use the juice in the canned pineapple if making one batch).
- If carving a fresh pineapple and you’re into smoothies, don’t throw out the core! It blitzes up beautifully in a high speed blender. Toss it in the freezer until ready to use.
- For an extra frosty homemade Pina Colada delight, freeze the pineapple chunks before blending.
- For the coconut creme, I use a can of full fat coconut milk (organic!), refrigerated, then I scoop out the solid coconut cream needed for the recipe.
- Because sweetness of pineapple varies, taste before adding sugar to your homemade Pina Colada, then adjust to taste.
- Fresh Pina Coladas are fabulous as mocktails. Simply leave the rum out and add more pineapple and/or coconut cream!
More Refreshing White Rum Cocktail Recipes to Love:
- Watermelon Mojitos
- Pina Colada Popsicles – from The Beach House Kitchen
- Blackberry Ginger Shrub Rum Cocktails – from The Floating Kitchen
- Strawberry Mojitos
- Virgin Gorda Style Pina Colada – from Foolproof Living
Fresh Pina Colada
- 1 1/2 C Whole Pineapple Chunks* 245g (if using canned chunks - from a whole pineapple see notes)
- 1/4 C Pineapple Juice 48g
- 2 Tbs Coconut Cream** from a can of full fat coconut milk - see note
- 3 oz White Rum 70g - for two servings (4 1/2 oz (105g) for three) see notes
- 1 Tbs Cane Sugar*** adjust to taste - See Note
- 3 C Ice 320 g
- Fresh Pineapple Wedges
- In a high speed blender, add the pineapple chunks, juice, coconut creme, rum, sugar and ice. Blend on high speed until the mixture is smooth yet still icy cold. Taste for sugar adjustment if needed.
- Pour into serving glasses and garnish with fresh pineapple.