Made from pineapple scraps like rinds and core, Tepache has a long tradition in Mexico but is relatively unknown in the rest of the world. The healthy and refreshing drink, in Mexico also known as Tepache de Piña (Pineapple Tepache), is rich in vitamins and nutrients. It has a moderate sugar content and is low in alcohol.
You can easily make it at home. You only need pineapple scraps, sugar, water, and 2-3 days of time for the mixture to ferment. Simply create a sugar-water mixture by heating both on a stove and put in a jar with pineapple rind and core. Leave it for up to three days, and your homemade Tepache is ready to be served on ice.
What exactly is Tepache?
Tepache, or Tepache de Piña, is a healthy fermented beverage from Mexico made by fermenting pineapple. It is lightly fizzy due to natural carbonation and sweet with just a hint of alcohol. To give you an indication, it typically contains around 2-3% of alcohol by volume.
To make it, all you need is the rinds, peel, and core of pineapple as well as water, piloncillo (raw cane sugar) or brown sugar, and a cinnamon stick.
In Mexico, it can happen that your Tepache is spiked with a bit of beer to increase the amount of alcohol. But this is mostly done in restaurants. If you order it in a juice bar, you'll get it pure and without added alcohol.
What is it good for?
Due to its pineapple base, Tepache contains plenty of nutrients. Manganese, vitamin C, phosphorus, and calcium are just some of them.
On top, the light fermented beverage also contains bromaline and antioxidants which have positive effects on digestion.
Further, as mentioned before, the fact that the beverage is fermented makes it full of probiotics that are good for the growth of good bacteria.
How to make Tepache at home
Making Tepache is super easy due to its natural fermentation process and a limited amount of ingredients. The whole process typically takes 2 to 3 days and only requires three steps:
- Making the sugar & water mixture
- Pour it into a container together with pineapple pieces
- Let it ferment for 2 to 3 days
The most complicated part of the recipe is probably the specific type of sugar you need: Piloncillo. Pilconcillo is a particular sugar made from sugar cane from Mexico. It usually has the shape of a cone and a slight cinnamon taste. If you should not be able to get that, use regular brown sugar and add another cinnamon stick to our recipe.
- 1 Cheesecloth
- 2 liters water
- 8 oz Piloncillo (or brown sugar)
- 1 pcs Pineapple - peels and core only
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- Heat the water in a large pot and remove it from heat once it starts to boil.2 liters water
- Add the piloncillo or brown sugar while the water is hot and stir until it's completely dissolved.8 oz Piloncillo (or brown sugar)
- Pour the sugar and water mix into a large mason jar and add pineapple scraps and the cinnamon stick.1 pcs Pineapple - peels and core only, 1 Cinnamon stick
- Don't close the glass with the lid put the cheesecloth on top. That ensures that the mix can breathe during the fermentation process.
- After waiting for two to three days, you can serve your Tepache. Pour it over ice and enjoy a healthy drink.
What does Tepache taste like?
When fermented correctly, the taste of Tepache is fresh, slightly fizzy, and acidic with a distinct pineapple flavor and sweet notes of toffee and caramel.
If you ferment it for too long, the carbonation will be way higher, and also the acidity is over-pronounced. While that's not problematic per se, you probably won't enjoy drinking it.
The difference between Kombucha and Tepache
Kombucha and Tepache are often thought to be the same thing, but they're not.
Tepache is made with naturally fermented pineapple. Kombucha, on the other hand, is fermented tea. For the fermentation of Kombucha, you also need to add SCOBY. Otherwise, nothing will happen.
The resulting drinks are both probiotics, but the Mexican drink usually has less sugar. Since the base for Kombucha is tea, there are often more added sugar and other additives.
What happens during fermentation?
Tepache is a fermented beverage similar to Kombucha and Kvass. Fermented beverages and foods help friendly bacteria and other microorganisms in our body to thrive. It also leads to a high amount of prebiotics which is highly beneficial for the growth of good bacteria.
Fermentation itself occurs when enzymes break down molecules like glucose in the absence of oxygen. The result is alcohol (ethyl alcohol) and carbonation (carbon dioxide).
The process for Tepache is super straightforward because it doesn't require a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) to start it.
You simply put the components together and set them aside. Fermentation happens naturally. Since the whole procedure merely takes two to three days, it's the perfect drink to make at home. Kvass or Kombucha often takes a lot longer to ferment.
The drink Tepache has a long history and dates back to Pre-Columbian Mexico. -A time long before the Spanish conquered the land in the 16th century.
It once had been a popular drink among Nahua - indigenous people to which also the Aztecs belonged - who named it tepiātl. Tepiātl literally translates to "drink made from corn", indicating that the Mexican fermented drink used to be made from corn instead of pineapple.
In modern days, however, it's always is made with pineapple; -or the scraps from the fruit, to be precise.