Tepache is a slightly alcoholic drink produced starting from the fermentation of pineapple peels with Piloncillo or sugar, cinnamon and other spices if desired. It is not a heavy alcoholic. On the contrary, it is the summer drink par excellence: it is very fresh, with a sharp and thirst-quenching taste, fruity, and an aromatic and sweet aftertaste. Do not think of anything transcendental. It is the pineapple beer that you will find for sale in every corner of southern Mexico, especially the state of Oaxaca, where the pre-Columbian traditions of the Aztec and Toltec peoples still permeate everyday life.
Do not be surprised though, the state of Oaxaca is also the homeland of pulque, the fermented agave wine and its distillate the mezcal, so you understand well that good drinking is a tradition rooted not only for recreational reasons but also and above all for the connection fermented beverages had with religious rites and deities.
And of all these Aztec drinks, tepiātl was the easiest to make, even though the original recipe was made with corn, the key ingredient of these populations. Even the word tepiātl means drink made of corn.
Closed the parenthesis, you have come here to find the recipe for today’s Tepache, you do not want just a little history lesson, and then we will satisfy you immediately. But before leaving, we will give you some advice. Making the tepache is quite simple. It is a simple homemade fermented, but every house, every hand, every kitchen is different. Therefore the colony of yeasts that are present in your home will react differently, so make a few attempts and don’t give up. Fermentation usually takes three days, but a lot depends on the pineapple you bought, the yeasts present “on you,” and the sugar.
A few words about Panela, also called Chancaca but known by the name of Piloncillo in Mexico. It is pure cane sugar boiled and then dried, basically a lump of pure sucrose and fructose, but if you can’t find it, you can use raw sugar.
Mexicans often add beer to reinforce the alcohol content of the tepache since we are talking about a fermented drink with shallow alcohol content, at most three degrees.
Ingredients and doses for making Mexican Tepache
- 1 pineapple
- 1 liter of chlorine-free water
- 120 grams of piloncillo or raw sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 cloves
- 5 grams of cardamom seeds, optional
- 2 cm of grated ginger, optional
How to make Mexican Tepache at home
Wash the pineapple, but don’t brush it. The peel is a splendid breeding ground for bacteria useful for fermentation, so don’t overdo it. Just rinse well. Peel the pineapple, making pieces of peel that are not too large. Cut the pulp into small pieces and put the pineapple with the peel in a glass container, a pitcher or an earthenware jar as they once did and then cover with water, which must not contain chlorine and add the sugar. I recommend covering all the pineapple pieces with water. If you need more, add it as well.
At this point, take a pestle and crush everything mercilessly to extract juices and flavors. Cover with a kitchen towel to prevent insects from entering and let it ferment in the kitchen (or in a room of the house that is warm enough), but not outside and never under the scorching sun. The higher the temperature, the faster the fermentation, so do not exceed 20 degrees.
After a day has passed, lift the tea towel, and you will notice that a light foam has formed. Do not be scared. Indeed it is an excellent sign. It means that the drink is alive and well and is working. Remove the foam, shake the container or jug slightly and cover with the kitchen towel.
After another day, lift the cloth and taste. We should be ready to drink it. Maybe it is still very sweet and low in alcohol, but let’s say that 48 hours of fermentation are the minimum. If you want a slightly less sweet tepache, let it ferment for another 10 hours and then taste. Be careful not to go beyond 3 days, otherwise, the slow transition from fermented pineapple drink to pineapple vinegar begins. Always good for heaven’s sake, but that’s another thing entirely!
Let’s say you waited 24 + 24 + 24 hours, so 72 hours. Well, at this point, it should be ready. Taste it, filter it with a sieve to remove any particles and the tepache is ready to be drunk with ice as if it were an iced tea.
Cocktail to do with the Tepache
Or you can use it as a base to make great cocktails, consider it a beer as an ingredient and then, to mitigate its acidity, try to combine it with velvety, meaty and sweet ingredients. Paired with tequila and mezcal, it is fantastic, with vodka and rum is lovely too. It is not a bomb with gin, but it is also excellent when paired with tropical fruit juices or strawberries or watermelon. To a base of 6 cl of Tepache, add 8 cl of peach nectar. Another idea could be a 4 cl pear juice plus 6 cl of tepache.
What does Tepache taste like?
We are talking about a fermented pineapple, a loudly acid fruit with a sharp flavor further accentuated during fermentation. The sugar helps to make the drink more velvety, but it tends to be very fresh, with a simple, fruity, immediate taste with spices that add a nice touch of color and aromatic depth.
Always remember to keep an eye on the drink. The temperature is an unknown factor to check. The higher it is and the more yeast they eat, the lower it is and the less hectic their work is.
The more sugar you put, the more alcoholic the Tepache will be: yeasts eat sugar and produce ethyl alcohol as a waste product.
Do not throw away the pulp! It is fermented fruit rich in vitamin C, a treasure to stock up on antioxidants and mineral salts. And it is also delicious!