Recipe by Dr. Sarah Lantz
Makes a 4-litre brew
This is a little gem of a summer beverage, steeped in Mayan history, and one of the easiest ferments in the world. Pineapple peels and cores are all that are needed. Pineapple, when ripe and juicy, ferments easily and lends itself well to a delightfully light, carbonated beverage.
Tepache is one of Mexico’s most beloved street drinks. I was introduced to this beverage while travelling through the streets of the once-sleepy fishing village of Playa del Carmen, a Yucatan beach town on the Mediterranean in Mexico now considered one of Riviera’s hippest cities, jammed with super-fit Europeans. Tepache is now used as a mixer in many of the opulent cocktail bars and night clubs sprawled down the main strip of Playa. This was not so when I was there a few years ago. I bought this drink from a guy pedalling a rusty cart with brown liquid swishing around in a bucket and a sign that read ‘Tepache – Mexico’s Favourite Drink’.
After flagging him down, he ladled the tepache straight from the bucket and into a plastic bag and handed it to me with a straw, costing me 5 pesos (around 40 cents). I then sipped on this fermented drink while walking down to the beach and its tropical, fruity, spicy, earthy taste intrigued me. There was so much good stuff going on in that little plastic bag. This recipe is inspired from that trip.
As with many fermented brews, tepache can contain a small amount of alcohol, especially when made with a second ferment to bring out the effervescence of the beverage. Also, do be careful to not let it ferment too long or you will end up with pineapple vinegar – which is also delicious, but not a tepache.
We make this recipe when the occasion calls for a celebration and we serve it as a punch for the whole family.
- 2 organic pineapples
- 1 cup honey, maple syrup, sugar or fermentable sweetener of your choice
- Optional: to spice up this tropical recipe with a little spice and earthiness, add a few cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole cloves and some tamarind pods.
- Remove the top, peel and core of each ripe pineapple, keeping about a centimetre of pineapple flesh on the peel. Set fruit aside to eat fresh. You will only need the peel and core of the pineapple in this recipe.
- If using a granulated sweetener, dissolve in warm water. In a large glass jar or crock, place the peels and cores, squeezing some of the juice from the rinds and cores as you deposit into the vessel.
- Then add the sugar solution, spices and additional water to cover. Place the lid on your vessel and leave in a warm spot to ferment for 1-3 days, checking the flavour daily to achieve your desired taste. You will see the bubbles of fermentation in your vessel. The longer your brew ferments, the more sour it will become.
- Strain off the spices and pineapple chunks and serve over ice as is, or to produce a carbonated beverage by placing in airtight bottles or jars for a few days to ferment. Refrigerate when your tepache has developed fizz.
As this recipe calls for the peel of pineapples, make sure you choose organic. Conventional pineapples are notorious for pesticide residues on their peel.
Also, you can’t judge the ripeness of a pineapple by its colour: both green and yellow pineapples can be ripe. Instead, look for bright leaves and a firm fruit that yields slightly to your squeeze. The leaves of pineapples come away easily when ripe.
Dr Sarah Lantz (PhD)
Buchi Brew Co. & Sacred Women’s Way