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Everything about pineapple tepache screams, “Summer! “It’s a sweet, fizzy and absolutely delightful probiotic drink that’s simple to make, utterly affordable and uses pineapple skin scraps: sustainability in action. This is wild fermentation at its best.
Pineapple tepache originated with the Nahua people in pre-Columbian Mexico. The word tepache translates as “drink made from corn.” This is how the drink was originally fermented.
When my husband and I were backpacking around Mexico we often purchased pineapple tepache from one of the many street vendors or market stalls. The tepache was sold in a plastic bag, which was sealed at the top using a rubber band and had a straw poked into the side. The taste of the sweet and bubbly pineapple-flavored liquid instantly transports me back to that time in my life when things were easy and breezy.
The fermentation process for pineapple tepache is simple, quick and easy to master. It relies on the wild yeasts that live on the pineapple skin and in the environment to convert the sugars. I have tried making tepache using pineapple flesh rather than the skin but the result was a less vigorous, less fermented brew.
Essentially, you can adapt the essence of this recipe to make any fruit-infused probiotic drink you like. Keep the sugar and water ratios the same, but replace the pineapple skins with apple skins, raspberries, strawberries or any other fruit that’s in season.
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Pineapple Tepache Fermentation Guidelines
Choose organic pineapple if possible.
Raw sugar or light brown sugar can be used in pineapple tepache. If you use light brown sugar, the tepache will have a slight molasses taste, whereas using raw sugar will result in a lighter flavor.
First fermentation vessel
Use a heatproof 2-quart (2 liter) wide-mouth glass, food-grade plastic or stainless steel container.
Tepache is an aerobic fermentation process, so it likes oxygen in the first fermentation stage. Cover the fermentation vessel with a piece of cheesecloth or clean dry dusting cloth and secure it with a rubber band.
During the secondary fermentation, the bottle needs to be tightly sealed with a lid to allow the carbonation to develop.
I recommend using two 1-quart (1 liter) sturdy glass bottles with narrow necks and tight-fitting lids (similar to champagne bottles) as this shape will encourage carbonation to develop. The lids need a good seal so that the fizz stays in the bottles. Bottles with flip-top rubber stoppers are suitable. You will also need a strainer and a funnel.
Some sediment (called “lees”) may appear in both the first and second fermentation stages. This is normal. Either stir it up and add it to your finished tepache or discard it.
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How to Know When Your Pineapple Tepache Is Ready for Bottling
The tepache should have a slight vinegary smell – the smell of sweet pineapple will be present, but it will be a little more acidic.
You should see small bubbles on the side of the fermentation vessel. There may be some white foam on top of the pineapple skins, and you may see bubbles rising up from the bottom of the jar to the top. This is fermentation in action.
You may be able to hear the fermentation ticking along with the sound of fizzing and hissing.
You should notice a change in flavor from sweet to a little more savory as the fermentation develops. The finished tepache tastes almost buttery, with toasted caramel flavors. It has a delicate balance between sweet and savory. It’s light on the palate and very clean and refreshing.
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Pineapple Tepache Troubleshooting
What if the brew turns moldy?
If you see mold growing, discard the tepache and start again. Even though the mold may be harmless, it’s not worth risking your health.
What if the brew isn't fermenting?
If your tepache is not fermenting after 7 days, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you been regularly and vigorously stirring the tepache?
- Is the brew too cold? Try moving it to a warmer spot to ferment.
- Does it have enough sugar?
- Are there pesticides on the pineapple skins? These could inhibit fermentation.
What if the brew is too thick?
If your tepache is quite thick and viscous, it’s generally still fine to drink – it just may be sweeter than you would like it. You can use it like a cordial and dilute it with sparkling mineral water or soda water.
What if there is a white film on my tepache?
This cloudy white film or foam is generally harmless. Simply scoop it off before bottling or when you see it develop.
What if my tepache isn't sweet enough?
If you prefer your drinks on the sweeter side, add more sugar at the first fermentation stage and the resulting drink will be sweeter.
What if my tepache has fermented for too long and turned into vinegar?
Lucky you! This is the later stage of fermentation, when the bacteria and yeasts have consumed all the sugars from the pineapple and sugar water, leaving you with a pineapple vinegar. Use this as a gut-tonic shot, or mix it with olive oil to make a salad dressing.
What if my tepache isn't fizzy enough?
Once the tepache has been bottled, you need to leave it long enough for it to develop carbonation. This could take up to a week in cold temperatures and as little as 12 hours in hotter temperatures.
What if the tepache turns alcoholic?
All ferments are naturally a little alcoholic, but the high sugar content of pineapple means that tepache has the potential to become more alcoholic than other ferments. Enjoy it cold at happy hour on a hot night, or as a spritzer mixed with some sparkling mineral water or coconut water.
More from Fermented Probiotic Drinks at Home:
Cover courtesy of The Experiment
Excerpted from Fermented Probiotic Drinks at Home: Make Your Own Kombucha, Kefir, Ginger Bug, Jun, Pineapple Tepache, Honey Mead, Beet Kvass, and More © Felicity Evans, 2017. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.