Anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe has divided opinion with a ‘budget hack’ for cooking fish with tinned pineapple to save money on soaring energy bills.
The British cook, who has been tweeting regular tips to help people combat the cost of living crisis through what they eat and how they cook, wrote: “My budget cooking hack of the day: you can ‘cook’ fish with canned pineapple, without using any fuel.”
She continued: “Chop fish into pieces. Mix with a can of pineapple in juice. Add salt, lemon/lime juice, pepper. Fridge for about 3 hours. Your fish will be cooked when you go back to it. Magic!”
Monroe explained the science, saying pineapple can ‘cook’ fish thanks its high content of bromelain, an enzyme which breaks down proteins. She added: “I discovered this [by] making a mackerel ceviche as part of a job for a canned fruit company last year, and thought it would be a cool trick to share.
“I mean, being able to cook the odd fish dish by slinging a can of pineapple over it isn’t going to solve food or fuel poverty, but it’s still a pretty neat trick to have up your sleeve for a simple supper that doesn’ t require any energy. And it’s absolutely delicious, too.”
Her recipe received mixed comments on social media, with one person commenting: “This is really silly, if you’re skint you can’t possibly afford fish. If I had the money for a very small piece of fish, I’d buy 10 tins of beans instead!”
Another said: “Just a caveat from a cook who happens to have a science degree….the canning process cooks the enzymes and deactivates most of them. Fresh would do a better job. Also, this doesn’t inactivate parasites or bacteria. Not trying to be a party pooper!”
A third added: “I’d rather spend the money on fuel to cook the fish than on tinned pineapple.”
One person joked: “I wish you could cook more food in the fridge. Tried chicken last week and it didn’t go so well.”
However some agreed with Monroe and confirmed her hack worked. “I tried it out of interest a few years ago after hearing someone talking about cooking fish in the fridge,” one person wrote. “That method was just a salt concoction, no pineapple – was nice (lovely texture) but quite bland, bet it’s lovely done with pineapple.”
Monroe replied to the user saying the dish with pineapple was “moreish” and that she usually adds chilli and serves it over iceberg lettuce “like ceviche”.
Monroe later tweeted that she has more cooking tips for no- or low-fuel cooking, but added that it “horrifies” her that “this is even a thing that people need in one of the richest economies in the world”.
Users were quick to agree with Monroe, also expressing disbelief at the rising cost of living.
“I’ve seen some people on Twitter talking about building outdoor cooking facilities to reduce electricity/gas bills. Crazy time for so many,” one user said.
Monroe replied: “Yeah I’ve been eyeballing my camping stove and BBQ lately, absolute madness that this is even a serious consideration!”
Another user shared some tips to reduce fuel costs: “Cut fresh veg up small and as even as you can manage so it cooks quicker and only needs same time. Boil a kettle, fill it in bowl with pasta/rice, leave a plate on top and let sit for 10+ mins. Don’t be hard on yourself for needing these tips.”
Other users encouraged people to make sure they sent meter readings to their energy companies today, 31 March, before the price cap rise on 1 April.
For more about receiving council tax and energy bill rebates, you can read our guide here.