Tepache is a slightly bubbly fermented drink from Central America that is a sweet and sour accompaniment to Asian and Latin meals or a refreshing afternoon beverage. It’s incredibly easy to make, as its an open, wild fermentation of pineapple peels and sugar water.
As with any fruit or sugary ferment, there will be trace amounts of alcohol. I haven’t found this drink to be intoxicating, and I would estimate this is about .5%-1% abv.
This drink is a great way to make use of extra parts of the pineapple that don’t have many other uses. The fruit really infuses into the drink to make a delicious soda-like pineapple treat!
- Skin and core of 1 pineapple with some of the fruit remaining
- ¼ cup ginger peels or 2” of ginger cut in slices
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 star anise and 1 stick cinnamon
- Filtered water
- One gallon glass jar
- 3-4 750 ml swing-top pressurized glass bottles
Stir the brown sugar into 1 quart filtered water until it is dissolved.
Combine the sugar water, pineapple skins and core, ginger, star anise, and cinnamon in a gallon glass jar. Add more water to cover and stir a few times. Weight the pineapple with a plate or plastic bag full of water to press the fruit beneath the surface. Cover with a tight cloth or paper towel and leave on a counter to ferment for 3-7 days at a temperature between 60-82°F. The hotter the temperature, the faster the tepache will ferment.
Stir the mixture daily, and taste it each day (using a clean spoon each time) to understand how it develops. When it has reached a pleasant, slightly bubbly, sour and sweet taste that you like, it is ready to drink. Wait until at least the third day to declare it ready. The longer it sits the more it will sour. Wait for the sour and sweet to balance out to your liking.
Once the drink has fermented you can enjoy it directly or choose to strain out the solids and move the liquid to swing-top bottles, the liquid here should fill about 3 750mL bottles. You can move these directly to the refrigerator, or leave them on the counter to bottle condition and become slightly more bubbly for one day. I do not recommend bottle conditioning at room temperature for a longer period of time, too much pressure will build.
This drink is particularly good with Thai curries, hot and sour soups, and enchiladas!
Should you wait too long and your tepache sours too much, use it as pineapple vinegar anywhere that you would use a cider vinegar. I’ve read in Gran Cocina Latina that pineapple vinegar is fairly traditional in El Salvador, and I’ve used pineapple vinegar with great success in salsas and as a pickling base for peaches, onions, and sweet peppers.