Pineapple sales soar 900% in South Africa amid alcohol ban

Pineapple sales soar 900% in South Africa as drinkers use it to create home-brew amid coronavirus alcohol ban

  • Bars and off-licences have been closed since March because of the pandemic
  • A traditional recipe for pineapple beer has spread rapidly online in South Africa
  • Daily sales of pineapples in Johannesburg have surged from 10,000 to 100,000 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Pineapple sales have soared by 900 per cent in South Africa as the country’s alcohol ban sparks a craze of turning the tropical fruit into a home-brew. 

Bars and off-licences have been closed since March because of the coronavirus pandemic under a strict lockdown imposed by President Cyril Ramaphosa. 

With drinkers desperate for alternatives, a traditional recipe for pineapple beer has spread rapidly online – prompting a surge in demand.  

In Johannesburg alone, daily sales of pineapples have soared from 10,000 to 100,000 and the price per kilogram has doubled.    

A traditional recipe for pineapple beer has spread rapidly online in South Africa – prompting a surge in demand amid an alcohol ban during lockdown

Mix the following in a sterilised container:

1 cayenne pineapple grated roughly including the skin

4 cups sugar

2 litres water

Cover and leave it to ferment for four days at room temperature. 

After four days sieve it into into plastic bottles and watch for fizziness.

When it starts to fizz, refrigerate, but regularly release the top to let out the gas.

Drink your tropical beer before it gets too carbonated.

The longer you leave it the stronger it gets, but no longer than seven days or it will go off. 

Samantha Nolan with one of her beers 

Samantha Nolan, president of Cape Town home-brew club South Yeasters, said: ‘People clearly in these tough lockdown times want to end the day with a strong drink.

‘It is five weeks now that alcohol has been banned and the bars have been closed but in recent weeks an old traditional recipe of making beer from pineapples has just taken off,’ the 50-year-old said. 

‘Ever since it hit social media the pineapples have been flying off the shelves and all you need is a sterile container and plenty of sugar and water and then you can make your own beer.

‘Once you have mixed the three ingredients together you just leave it alone and the yeast that is present in the pineapple skin begins to ferment and all the sugars in your brew turn into alcohol.

‘The longer you leave your brew the stronger it gets but a week is long enough to give you a tropical drink with a kick like a mule and then you put it in plastic bottles and chill it in the fridge.

‘Glass bottles explode so you must put the beer in plastic bottles and open the top regularly to let the gas out until you are ready to drink then enjoy getting happily pickled on pineapples!’ she said.

Locals refer to a hearty drinking session as getting ‘pineapplized’ and supermarkets are now selling the fruit as a package with sugar and yeast.

One customer, Tony Parkins, said: ‘You can now walk into stores and find pineapples, yeast and sugar all in one place and pop them in your basket and head to the tills.

‘Half an hour later your brew is bubbling away and after a week you are supping it! It is pretty sweet but served with ice it goes down a treat and it really does the job!’.

According to BusinessLIVE, there were 10,000 pineapples sold in Johannesburg on the first day of the lockdown.  

By last Monday it said the figure was 90,000 and industry insiders say that that figure is now over 100,000 pineapples a day.

Prices were at 50p per kilogram in late March, but have now doubled to £1 with supermarkets even considering rationing their sales.  

Some supermarkets have even started selling pineapples, sugar and yeast as a set 

Jaco Oosthuizen, the head of of RSA Group which is a fresh produce sales organisation, said: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown has had effects on the fresh produce markets.

‘This can be observed in the pineapple price but this is simply the free market at work and as this shows there is always a market or a buyer for a product at the right price’

Statistics from Google SA also show that searches by thirsty locals on how to make your own pineapple beer have surged by more than 500 per cent in recent weeks.

There are also claims that Anchor Yeast’s brewing yeast, used to make the home-brew indoors, will no longer be sold in stores to prevent it being diverted for non-essential use. 

But Samantha Nolan, the South Yeasters president, said drinkers can make do without the yeast if necessary. 

‘The beauty of making pineapple beer is that the yeast is already naturally in the skin so make sure all the skin is cut up and goes in the mix,’ she said. 

‘If you add extra yeast it quickens the process and strengthens the beer if needed but all you basically need is the pineapple, sugar and water and a clean container to brew it in’. 

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