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Tepache is a fresh and fizzy fermented beverage made from the parts of the pineapple you usually don't eat: the rind and core. Find out what you need to know about tepache, including its health benefits and a simple tepache recipe so you can make it at home.

EatingWell.com, August 2022

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Credit: Jillian Atkinson

Recipe Summary

active:
10 mins
total:
1 week
Servings:
8
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Tepache (or tepache de piña) is a fermented pineapple drink popular in Mexico but also found in many Latin American communities beyond Mexico's borders. It's made with the rinds and core of the pineapple, resulting in a refreshing, fruity, effervescent drink that's low in alcohol and may be easily made at home.

The principal ingredients are the rind and core of the pineapple, which contain large amounts of bromelain, an enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties. The natural yeasts that live on the pineapple rind jump-start the fermentation process. Whether or not you're using an organic pineapple to make tepache, be sure to rinse the rind with water to rid the skin of any unwanted residue or pesticides that may be present.

Tepache is lightly sweetened with brown sugar or piloncillo, and flavored with cinnamon sticks and cloves. The sugar fuels fermentation, and the spices assist that process by creating an environment that discourages the growth of unwanted bacteria and mold that can cause spoilage.

What does tepache taste like? 

Tepache has a unique taste that varies depending on how long you ferment it and is commonly described as a mix of apple cider, pineapple soda and beer. It's slightly sweet, with a fresh tropical-fruit flavor that makes it hard to stop drinking. If you let it sit longer, the natural sugars will ferment even more, causing a more robust, lip-smacking sour flavor. The fermentation process adds in a hint of tartness, which is why some people compare the taste to that of kombucha. However, unlike kombucha, there's almost no bitterness or vinegar flavor. If you discover you aren't into the taste of straight-up tepache on its own, try mixing it with some beer or ginger ale.

A brief history of tepache 

Tepache has been around for centuries, with origins in pre-Hispanic Mexico. Its name comes from the Nahuatl word tepiātl, which means "drink made from corn" (early tepache was made with maize, not pineapple) that Aztec laborers consumed to increase stamina. Tepache is still made and sold by street vendors in Mexico, but it's also possible to make tepache at home in about a week.

Healthful benefits of tepache 

As a fermented beverage, tepache contains some probiotics, which help keep the good bacteria in your gut healthy, help with digestion and support your immune system. The fermentation process also boosts the vitamin content of tepache, so it offers more nutritional benefits than just eating a ripe pineapple. It also contains much less alcohol than most other fermented beverages, including beer, wine and spirits. 

A note on alcohol content

Like any other alcoholic beverage, the alcohol content in tepache varies. The alcohol content depends on how long you ferment it, the type and amount of sugar used and the temperature during fermentation. Still, because of its low alcohol content, tepache is considered a nonalcoholic beverage in Mexico. Generally, tepache contains between less than 1% alcohol by volume and up to 3%, depending on the maker or brand. For comparison, most beers have an ABV of just over 4% (light beers) to 6% and upward (IPAs), while the average glass of wine ranges from 11% to 14% ABV.

How to drink tepache

Tepache can be enjoyed by itself or mixed with other liquids to create a variety of cocktails

You can mix it with whatever you want. It's a great mixer for spirits, but it's also great on its own or added to a glass of sparkling water. It's best to drink it as soon as possible after you've made it (within a week), when it's at its freshest. Tepache is an excellent drink to have on hand year-round, especially in summer, because it's a nice alternative to water or soda, you get to use the whole pineapple and it's a fizzy and festive libation.

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Peel pineapple and cut the rind into approximately 2-inch squares. Cut away most of the flesh from the core; reserve the fruit for another use (or keep it nearby for snacking). It's OK if there's still some flesh attached to the core.    

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  • Place the rind pieces and the core in a large glass jar (see Tip, below). Add water, piloncillo (or brown sugar), cinnamon and cloves; mix well. Place a fermentation weight (or any glass or ceramic dish that fits in your jar) on top of the pineapple; the weight will help keep it completely submerged and protect the surface of the liquid from growing organisms you don't want, like mold. Cover with cheesecloth (or a clean, breathable cloth) and secure with a rubber band to keep out insects and debris. (A loose lid in place of cloth will also work, allowing gas to escape during fermentation but keeping bugs out of your brew.) 

  • Let the mixture ferment at room temperature until it has reached your desired flavor and mouthfeel, 3 to 5 days. Check it occasionally; if you spot any mold, don't take any chances and start the process over. For more bubbles, ferment for longer; for more tartness (acidity), ferment for less time. The longer you let the tepache ferment, the stronger the flavor will be, but if you let it go too far, you will have a tasty pineapple vinegar on your hands! 

  • When the liquid is cloudy, bubbly and at your desired taste level, uncover the jar and strain the liquid into another nonreactive container (discard the solids). Pour the tepache into ice-filled glasses and enjoy. Cover any remaining tepache and store at room temperature for up to 3 days (where it will continue to ferment and deepen in flavor, but less than if you hadn't strained out the solids) or refrigerate for up to 1 week (where the chill of the fridge will halt fermentation).

Equipment

3-quart glass jar (see Tip)

Tip

A 3-quart glass jar works best for this recipe. You will fill the jar almost to the top. You could also use a gallon-size jar, but larger containers encourage more bacteria growth simply because there will be more space left for more bacteria, which makes the flavor more sour. If you don't have a large glass jar, you can also use a large food-grade plastic container or a big pottery crock.

Nutrition Facts

about 1 cup
55 calories; carbohydrates 15g; sugars 14g; added sugar 13g; fat 26g; vitamin a iu 8IU; vitamin c 7mg; folate 3mg; sodium 23mg; calcium 9mg; magnesium 4mg; phosphorus 1mg; potassium 18mg.
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