Tepache Recipe with Spices

An iced glass of tepache sits surrounded with spices and adorned with lime and pineapple

Fermented foods and beverages—abundant in lively bubbles and gut-nurturing probiotics— have been all the rage in recent years. Its safe to say that most of us are familiar with the so-called fermented celebrities” circulating our natural grocery store aisles these days, such as kombucha, kimchi, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, and kefir. However, one drink has surfaced from ancient origins and is quickly becoming the latest-and-greatest fermented beverage: tepache. With just a sip of this tastebud-enticing, effervescent, fermented pineapple drink, you can taste exactly why. 

A jar of pineapple rind and spices sits ready to ferment into tepache

Although well-intended fermentation fanatics have labeled tepache as the new kombucha,” tepache is no more similar to kombucha than sauerkraut is to kimchi, and it carries a unique origin of its own. Tepache has deep cultural roots dating back to the Indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. The Mayan people of the Yucatan and the Nahua people of Central Mexico brewed tepache well before the 1500s conquest. Today, tepache still thrives throughout Mexico, commonly sold by street vendors or in tianguis (street markets), served ice cold in traditional clay mugs or a bag pierced with a straw. 

The origin of the word tepache is a fusion of the Nahuatl words for tepiātl (drink of corn) and tepachoa (ground with a stone). True to its name, early tepache was a fermented crushed corn beverage. The inclusion of pineapple occurred after the Spanish conquest, as new trade routes between Central and South America introduced the fruit to Central Mexico from its native regions along the Parana-Paraguay rivers in Brazil and Paraguay. It’s theorized that pineapple was originally added to corn tepache as a sweetener and became increasingly dominant in tepache recipes until it replaced corn entirely.

Warming spices that are used for tepache sit out on a countertop

Today, tepache is made by fermenting the skins and core of pineapple, combined with warming spices and dark cane sugar. Traditionally, piloncillo (a solidified form of sucrose made by boiling down sugarcane juice) is the sweetener of choice. Tepaches fermentation magic depends on a combination of the naturally occurring yeast and bacteria present on the skin of pineapple, and the natural and added sugars from pineapple and piloncillo. As with so many fermented foods and beverages, this fermentation process gives tepache a plethora of probiotics, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It is no wonder fermentation lovers are so enamored with tepache!

Spiced Tepache Recipe

When you try this recipe, take a moment to acknowledge the profound ancestral roots that nutritious, refreshing tepache carries.

Makes approximately seven 8-oz. servings

Supplies

  • 2-liter wide-mouth bail top jar
  • Two 1-liter swing-top glass bottles (optional)
  • Fine mesh strainer

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Remove the crown (top leaves) off the pineapple and rinse the outer skin thoroughly under lukewarm tap water.
  2. Pat pineapple dry with a clean cloth or paper towel and transfer to a non-slip cutting board. Using a sharp knife, peel and remove the pineapple core. Set pineapple flesh aside for later snacking or another recipe.
  3. Transfer pineapple skins and core to a clean 2-liter wide-mouth bail top jar. Add spices to the jar and set aside.
  4. Combine piloncillo or organic raw cane sugar with about 2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Heat on low/medium until sugar is fully dissolved. Don’t let the mixture boil!
  5. Once dissolved, pour the sugar syrup over pineapple skins, core, and spices.
  6. Add enough filtered water to the jar to fully submerge the pineapple skins and core. If necessary, add a fermentation weight to the jar.
  7. Seal the jar and cover with a tea towel. Gently flip the jar upside down a few times to ensure sugar syrup is evenly dispersed throughout.
  8. Set aside in a warm spot away from direct sunlight. Allow mixture to ferment for 2-4 days, depending on your climate and room temperature.
  9. Check the jar each day to watch the fermentation magic happen!
  10. You’ll know your tepache is ready once frothy bubbles appear around the top lid and fizzy bubbles rise when you swirl the jar gently. Taste to ensure it has reached peak fermentation. The flavor should be tart, complex, and a bit spicy.
  11. Once ready, use a fine mesh strainer and pour the mixture into another large jar to separate the liquid from the pineapple solids. Compost the peel, core, and spices.
  12. Chill tepache in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
  13. Enjoy your tepache on its own over ice or with a healthy squeeze of lime. You can even try using this fermented liquid gold as the base for delicious and refreshing cocktails/mocktails (my favorite)!

Pro-Tips

  • Although naturally bubbly, tepache will not be carbonated after the initial fermentation. If you prefer more carbonation, transfer the strained tepache to two 1-liter swing-top glass bottles (or any glass bottles designed to withstand pressure) and allow to ferment for a second time at room temperature for approximately two days. Transfer to the fridge and fully chill before opening and serving.
  • Piloncillo can be found at most Mexican grocery stores or occasionally in the international food aisle at generic grocery stores. If you’re unable to find piloncillo, dark cane sugar works just as well in its place.
  • As with all fermentation recipes, if you see/smell anything growing in your jar that doesn’t look quite right (fuzzy white/blue mold or an unpleasant sour smell), it is best to compost that and start over.
  • Be careful not to leave your tepache fermenting for too long, or you may end up with a sticky mess all over your kitchen counter (a lesson I learned the hard way)! 4 days was the perfect amount of fermentation time here in the PNW but will likely be quicker in warmer climates.

*Disclaimer – Much like other fermented beverages, tepache contains small amounts of alcohol due to the CO2 and alcohol byproducts that naturally result when yeast processes sugar. Although the ABV of tepache typically falls between 0.5% - 2% (similar to kombucha), we do not recommend consuming this recipe if you avoid alcohol for dietary, religious, or personal reasons.

 

Want to learn more about traditional Mexican beverages?

Check out our Traditional Mexican Hot Chocolate with Chocolate de Mesa Recipe!

 

You may also be interested in:
DIY: Homemade Ginger "Bug" and Fermented Herbal Sodas
How to Make Smreka: A Fermented Juniper Berry Drink
Fermented Rice Water Hair Treatment with Herbs

Mountain Rose Herbs PIN photo

 


Hailey

Written by Hailey on June 3, 2024

Hailey grew up on a small rural farm in Oregon surrounded by trees and more animals than you could count on your fingers and toes, Hailey has always had a strong passion for exploration, art, biology, and animals. These passions have led her through various career paths including veterinary medicine, neurodiverse healthcare, and teaching glazing at a local pottery studio. These accumulated skills brought her to the front steps of Mountain Rose Herbs, where she holds the Partnership & Event Coordinator position. When she isn’t planning community events, you can find her cooking up nourishing vegan food, snuggling with her beloved kitty, Indigo, or wandering around mossy creek beds looking for agates and animal bones to breathe new life into her jewelry creations.


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Tepache Recipe with Spices

An iced glass of tepache sits surrounded with spices and adorned with lime and pineapple

Fermented foods and beverages—abundant in lively bubbles and gut-nurturing probiotics— have been all the rage in recent years. Its safe to say that most of us are familiar with the so-called fermented celebrities” circulating our natural grocery store aisles these days, such as kombucha, kimchi, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, and kefir. However, one drink has surfaced from ancient origins and is quickly becoming the latest-and-greatest fermented beverage: tepache. With just a sip of this tastebud-enticing, effervescent, fermented pineapple drink, you can taste exactly why. 

A jar of pineapple rind and spices sits ready to ferment into tepache

Although well-intended fermentation fanatics have labeled tepache as the new kombucha,” tepache is no more similar to kombucha than sauerkraut is to kimchi, and it carries a unique origin of its own. Tepache has deep cultural roots dating back to the Indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. The Mayan people of the Yucatan and the Nahua people of Central Mexico brewed tepache well before the 1500s conquest. Today, tepache still thrives throughout Mexico, commonly sold by street vendors or in tianguis (street markets), served ice cold in traditional clay mugs or a bag pierced with a straw. 

The origin of the word tepache is a fusion of the Nahuatl words for tepiātl (drink of corn) and tepachoa (ground with a stone). True to its name, early tepache was a fermented crushed corn beverage. The inclusion of pineapple occurred after the Spanish conquest, as new trade routes between Central and South America introduced the fruit to Central Mexico from its native regions along the Parana-Paraguay rivers in Brazil and Paraguay. It’s theorized that pineapple was originally added to corn tepache as a sweetener and became increasingly dominant in tepache recipes until it replaced corn entirely.

Warming spices that are used for tepache sit out on a countertop

Today, tepache is made by fermenting the skins and core of pineapple, combined with warming spices and dark cane sugar. Traditionally, piloncillo (a solidified form of sucrose made by boiling down sugarcane juice) is the sweetener of choice. Tepaches fermentation magic depends on a combination of the naturally occurring yeast and bacteria present on the skin of pineapple, and the natural and added sugars from pineapple and piloncillo. As with so many fermented foods and beverages, this fermentation process gives tepache a plethora of probiotics, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It is no wonder fermentation lovers are so enamored with tepache!

Spiced Tepache Recipe

When you try this recipe, take a moment to acknowledge the profound ancestral roots that nutritious, refreshing tepache carries.

Makes approximately seven 8-oz. servings

Supplies

  • 2-liter wide-mouth bail top jar
  • Two 1-liter swing-top glass bottles (optional)
  • Fine mesh strainer

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Remove the crown (top leaves) off the pineapple and rinse the outer skin thoroughly under lukewarm tap water.
  2. Pat pineapple dry with a clean cloth or paper towel and transfer to a non-slip cutting board. Using a sharp knife, peel and remove the pineapple core. Set pineapple flesh aside for later snacking or another recipe.
  3. Transfer pineapple skins and core to a clean 2-liter wide-mouth bail top jar. Add spices to the jar and set aside.
  4. Combine piloncillo or organic raw cane sugar with about 2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Heat on low/medium until sugar is fully dissolved. Don’t let the mixture boil!
  5. Once dissolved, pour the sugar syrup over pineapple skins, core, and spices.
  6. Add enough filtered water to the jar to fully submerge the pineapple skins and core. If necessary, add a fermentation weight to the jar.
  7. Seal the jar and cover with a tea towel. Gently flip the jar upside down a few times to ensure sugar syrup is evenly dispersed throughout.
  8. Set aside in a warm spot away from direct sunlight. Allow mixture to ferment for 2-4 days, depending on your climate and room temperature.
  9. Check the jar each day to watch the fermentation magic happen!
  10. You’ll know your tepache is ready once frothy bubbles appear around the top lid and fizzy bubbles rise when you swirl the jar gently. Taste to ensure it has reached peak fermentation. The flavor should be tart, complex, and a bit spicy.
  11. Once ready, use a fine mesh strainer and pour the mixture into another large jar to separate the liquid from the pineapple solids. Compost the peel, core, and spices.
  12. Chill tepache in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
  13. Enjoy your tepache on its own over ice or with a healthy squeeze of lime. You can even try using this fermented liquid gold as the base for delicious and refreshing cocktails/mocktails (my favorite)!

Pro-Tips

  • Although naturally bubbly, tepache will not be carbonated after the initial fermentation. If you prefer more carbonation, transfer the strained tepache to two 1-liter swing-top glass bottles (or any glass bottles designed to withstand pressure) and allow to ferment for a second time at room temperature for approximately two days. Transfer to the fridge and fully chill before opening and serving.
  • Piloncillo can be found at most Mexican grocery stores or occasionally in the international food aisle at generic grocery stores. If you’re unable to find piloncillo, dark cane sugar works just as well in its place.
  • As with all fermentation recipes, if you see/smell anything growing in your jar that doesn’t look quite right (fuzzy white/blue mold or an unpleasant sour smell), it is best to compost that and start over.
  • Be careful not to leave your tepache fermenting for too long, or you may end up with a sticky mess all over your kitchen counter (a lesson I learned the hard way)! 4 days was the perfect amount of fermentation time here in the PNW but will likely be quicker in warmer climates.

*Disclaimer – Much like other fermented beverages, tepache contains small amounts of alcohol due to the CO2 and alcohol byproducts that naturally result when yeast processes sugar. Although the ABV of tepache typically falls between 0.5% - 2% (similar to kombucha), we do not recommend consuming this recipe if you avoid alcohol for dietary, religious, or personal reasons.

 

Want to learn more about traditional Mexican beverages?

Check out our Traditional Mexican Hot Chocolate with Chocolate de Mesa Recipe!

 

You may also be interested in:
DIY: Homemade Ginger "Bug" and Fermented Herbal Sodas
How to Make Smreka: A Fermented Juniper Berry Drink
Fermented Rice Water Hair Treatment with Herbs

Mountain Rose Herbs PIN photo

 


Hailey

Written by Hailey on June 3, 2024

Hailey grew up on a small rural farm in Oregon surrounded by trees and more animals than you could count on your fingers and toes, Hailey has always had a strong passion for exploration, art, biology, and animals. These passions have led her through various career paths including veterinary medicine, neurodiverse healthcare, and teaching glazing at a local pottery studio. These accumulated skills brought her to the front steps of Mountain Rose Herbs, where she holds the Partnership & Event Coordinator position. When she isn’t planning community events, you can find her cooking up nourishing vegan food, snuggling with her beloved kitty, Indigo, or wandering around mossy creek beds looking for agates and animal bones to breathe new life into her jewelry creations.