Tasty Tepache: Mexican Magic Drink

Two glasses of tepache, the fermented pineapple beverage.

From “Fermented Food Lab”

Tasty Tepache

In celebration of Mexico beating Germany in today’s match, (what’s going on with this World Cup, eh?) and the overwhelming heat of the Southern Summer, I’m sharing my almost-sort-of-kind-of-a-recipe for tepache.

Tepache is a beverage originating from Mexico in the way back of time. Similar to aguas frescas, Mexico’s traditional fruity street juice mixtures, these fresh waters cool you down deliciously on sweltering days. It’s a semi-sweet, slightly sour pineapple drink enjoyed to bring a brisk, refreshing flavor to your mouth. And, good news, it’s easy to make, even if you’ve had previous troubles with the experiment like me.

Pineapple is probably my second favorite fruit. I love flavor combinations, and the sticky sweet, tangy goodness of this golden yellow blessing fills me with delight. Whether it’s the feature in a pineapple margarita, the tinge on illustrious rum like Stiggins’ Plantation Pineapple, or the main event to be chowed on at breakfast or lunch, I’ll eat pineapple all day any day.

Add a slightly alcoholic pucker, some sultry cloves, and bright ginger, and I’m in even more.

How to Make Tepache

At this point I’ll steal from Amy Stewart and my previous post, “If you put any sugar-water mixture outside, yeast will find it and ferment.”

And if you’ve learned your lesson, you’ll allow a place for the carbonation from the fermentation to release. But yes, it’s just that easy. The very basics of what you need to make tepache are water, sugar, and pineapple rinds. Water and sugar to make the base liquid, and pineapple rinds containing those important yeasty enzymes to get the reaction going.

Since it’s a cultural favorite, there are as many recipes for tepache as there are stars in the sky. I pulled from these articles to get an idea of what I wanted, then rearrange the pieces to make my own.

Don’t get confused if there are spices or sugars you don’t recognize in some of the fancier articles. Remember, water, sugar, and enzymes and you’ll get fermentation. Everything else is fluff. Now here’s how to make tepache in Five Easy Steps.

Five Steps to Tepache

1. Cut your pineapple. You don’t care about the actual fruit bits as the enzymes primarily live on the rind, but I like to leave some meat for flavor. Cut the rind off your pineapple creating 1″ wide strips that will be easy to remove later. Place these strips in a large container (a one gallon container is recommend to hold all the bits). I used a basic plastic pitcher I had.

2. Sugar it up. If you’re making a standard batch from one pineapple, I recommend roughly 2 cups of sugar. Turbinado or brown sugar is recommended to keep the rich flavor, but you can use white too. I make a simple syrup beforehand to ensure uniforming mixing in the container. If you do this, make sure the syrup cools down to room temperature before pouring it on the pineapple rinds. You don’t want to kill your precious bacteria with too much heat!

3. Add your spices. I used clove, pink pepper, nutmeg, two cinnamon sticks, and some fresh ginger I had in the fridge from another recipe. I recommend deep, earthy spices with bold flavors to hold up to the pineapple and mix well.

4. Let it sit. Bacteria grows best at warm temperatures without sun to interfere too much. Set your container somewhere in your house that doesn’t get sun to forget about it a few days while it ferments away. Two to three days is the recommended minimum, but you can let it go longer to get more fermentation. Key point! Don’t seal the container, but don’t leave it uncovered. The carbon dioxide released from the bacteria needs to escape, but you don’t want other enzymes wandering in and throwing off your mix. My pitcher lid had strainer holes, so I aligned them. You can also put a damp paper towel over the top.

5. Strain and serve. After your allotted time, check  up on your beverage. If you’ve got a whiteish foam on top, you’re in luck! Fermentation has occurred! You can now strain and serve. Any strainer will do to get out the finer spices. If you’re really ambitions, run it through a cheese cloth to get a super smooth finish, or leave it rough like I do.

Tepache can be enjoyed straight or incorporated into other beverages. I used too much sugar in this batch, so I’m cutting mine with carbonated water like La Croix to get the finish I want. Or, I’m combining it into a cocktail and going back to see what other great stuff happens in the World Cup.  I call this the Tepache Takedown

Tepache TakedownA cocktail called the Tepache Takedown.

  • 1 1/2 oz Stiggins Plantation Pineapple Rum
  • 1 oz Ancho Reyes Chile Liquer
  • 2 oz Homemade Tepache

Shake well, finishing with a splash of soda. Garnish with pineapple.


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