What is Tepache? 

Tepache is a traditional drink that dates to Pre-Columbian Mexico and is made from fermented pineapple, water, and spices. It can be made using only pineapple peels or a whole cut-up pineapple. Similar to Kombucha, Tepache is a fermented drink, but no starter (or scoby) is needed. When stored at the right temperature, the drink is ready in just a couple of days and yields a refreshing, fizzy cider-like drink with a sweet pineapple aftertaste. Tepache is a probiotic drink that adds to the naturally occurring microbes that restore healthy intestinal flora. For a similar refreshing drink, try a Berry Shrub 

Pineapple – King of the Fruit

Pineapple was once a very rare and exotic fruit presented by explorers as a precious gift to European royalty. The cluster of spiky leaves on top of the fruit also resembles the royal crown. Pineapples are actually a composite of many flowers, not just one fruit, whose individual fruitlets fuse together around a central core. Each fruitlet is called an ‘eye’ and makes up the alligator-like skin. Pineapples originated in the Amazon rainforest, and it was Columbus who first brought pineapples back to Spain to present to Queen Isabella. American colonists imported pineapples from the Caribbean, where they were considered a symbol of hospitality. “To this day, the pineapple is a cultural symbol in the American south, particularly in Charleston, South Carolina, where they appear both inside and outside the home. When hung over the front door, a pineapple was a sign that the man of the house was at home from sea and welcoming visitors.” (foodprint.org/read-food/pineapples) Until the 1960s, Hawaii produced three-fourths of the world’s pineapple harvest at Dole plantations and canaries. Now pineapple is also grown in southern Florida, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Thailand, and the Philippines. Although available year-round, their peak season is from March through June.

Culinary Uses 

Pineapple is usually just peeled, cut up, and eaten fresh. It can be added to stir-fry dishes, made into the famous pineapple upside-down cake, used as a topping for Hawaiian pizza, and made into a glaze for baked ham. 

Health Benefits

One cup of raw pineapple contains 105 percent of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C and is a good source of copper, manganese, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, folate, and pantothenic acid, offering antioxidant protection and immune support. Pineapple belongs to the bromeliad family of plants, the source of important health-promoting compounds, the enzyme bromelain. Bromelain, together with papain, is a unique protein-digesting (and tenderizing) enzyme with anti-inflammatory benefits. Bromelain and papain are also sold as meat tenderizing powders and are the major ingredients in digestive supplements.  

How To Choose a Pineapple

Picking a pineapple that smells sweet and juicy, with leaves that easily pull away from the crown, indicates a fruit that is ready to be eaten. The spikey leaves should be green, not dried out and brown and the outside of the fruit should look mostly yellow. Pineapple can be stored at room temperature pineapple on the kitchen counter will perfume the room, but it will spoil faster, so store it in the fridge if not used immediately. In the Environmental Working Group’s rating, pineapple has consistently earned a spot on its “Clean Fifteen” list, meaning it has very low levels of pesticide residue. It is often more economical to buy a whole pineapple rather than one that has been precut. 

Pineapple and other drink ingredients sitting on a counter

Tepache 

Ingredients: 

1 pineapple, cut into chunks

Piece of ginger

1-2 cinnamon sticks

5 cloves

2-3 small hot peppers

Brown sugar (piloncillo if available) 

Large glass pitcher filled with water 

Pineapple on cutting board with the top cut off

 How To Cut Up a Whole Pineapple

Rinse the pineapple and lay the fruit on its side. With a sharp, wide-edged knife cut off the top and bottom of the fruit, which creates a stable cutting base. Set the pineapple upright. Work your way around the pineapple, trimming off the rind in strips. Cut deep enough to carve out the ‘eyes’ with the tip of the knife, but save as much of the flesh as possible. Divide into quarters and cut out the tough inner core, which can be used in cooking to add flavor to sauces. Divide each quarter into two or three strips and then dice into bite-sized pieces. Store sliced pineapple in an airtight container for up to one week in the refrigerator. 

Pineapple with skin removed sitting on cutting board

Chop up the pineapple pulp. You can use the whole pineapple if you have a large container and plan to make a bigger batch. The resulting Tepache will have a stronger pineapple flavor. 

Chopped pineapple peel on a cutting board

The fermentation process

In a large glass container, place the pineapple peels, sugar, cinnamon stick, and cloves and add water. Cover the glass container with a cheesecloth loosely, allowing the brew to breathe, setting up the Lacto fermentation process. 

Drink ingredients in a jar, covered with a red towel

It takes about three days at an average temperature of 77 to 86 degrees F for fermentation to take place, and the tepache is ready to drink. After two days, check the liquid, and with a wooden spoon, remove any white foam that has formed on the surface. Take care not to let it ferment too long, or it will turn into vinegar. The container can be placed on the countertop or outside, depending on the temperature. The correct temperature is the key to the fermentation process. When sufficiently fermented and the taste is to your liking, strain the content into another jar and store it in the refrigerator. 

Finished drink in a large sealed jar

Sources: 

https://foodprint.org

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2018/04/25/the-strange-history-of-the-king-pine/

Resources: 

True Brews book cover

True brews: how to craft fermented cider, beer, wine, sake, soda, mead, kefir, and kombucha at home by Emma Christensen

Book 641.873 CHRISTEN

Cool Waters book cover

Cool waters: 50 refreshing, healthy, homemade thirst quenchers  by Brian Preston-Campbell

Book Call Number: 641.26 PRESTON

Zero Proof book cover

Zero proof cocktails: 90 nonalcoholic recipes for mindful drinking by Elva Ramirez and Robert Bredvad

Book Call Number: 641.875 RAMIREZ

Disclaimer:

Information contained here is not intended to treat or cure any diseases or to be a substitute for medical advice.

Magda Born

mborn@kckpl.org

Community Services Librarian

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library

625 Minnesota Ave.

Kansas City, KS 66101

913-295-8250 ext 1103