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Fernando's Tepache

I’ve been watching Fernando @fmedeats post pictures of “tepache” to his Instagram account, and asked for the recipe on the last one:

He replied to my plea with some basics:

Go commando. Here’s a rough guide: a whack of fresh grated ginger, the skin of one or two pineapples, sugar to taste (maybe a cup or two? To taste!), a few star anise, a few pods of cardamom, water (let sit overnight to de-chlorinate). All goes in a mega-Mason jar (Famous Foods sells them). Ferment for 2-3 days. Transfer to pop-top glass bottles for secondary fermentation. Burp every couple of hours. Put in fridge. DM me if you need more info! It’s really a loosey-goosey recipe

But first, what is tepache? Wikipedia tells us it’s a fermented pineapple beverage:

Tepache is a fermented beverage made from the peel and the rind of pineapples, and is sweetened either with piloncillo or brown sugar, seasoned with powdered cinnamon, and served cold. Though tepache is fermented for several days, the resulting drink does not contain much alcohol. In Mexican culinary practice, the alcoholic content of tepache may be increased with a small amount of beer.

In Mexico, tepache is usually sold as a chilled drink by street vendors. It is usually stored in barrels to make the fermentation process faster. It is served either in a clay mug or in a clear plastic bag with a straw inserted for easier travel. In the U.S., it is sold in juice bars or traditional Mexican restaurants in the Mexican American communities of the Southwestern United States. The fermentation process for making tepache is simple and quick, which makes tepache a drink readily produced at home.

OK, great! Even better, Fernando sent me some step by step pictures:

Starting Ingredients

Chopped Ginger

Lime Zest

Chopped Pineapple Skins and Cores

Juicing the Lime

Cinnamon, Star Anise, Cardamom Pods

White Sugar

Put it all together in a big mason jar

Ferment for 2-3 Days

Transfer to pop-top glass bottles for secondary fermentation. Burp every couple of hours. Put in fridge.

Those bottles with the ceramic flip tops? Turns out Fernando and I get them from the same source – find a store near you that sells fancy lemonade or spritzer that comes in the bottles, wash them out, and re-use them for whatever you need. Ikea has ones with crappier lids on them, and honestly buying fancy drinks is probably the cheapest way to get your hands on them.

  • Used two pineapples, skins and cores. They were pretty ripe.
  • A 4 inch knob of ginger.
  • 2 Tbsp of green cardamom pods
  • Juice of one fresh lemon.
  • 3/4 cup of turbinado (light brown) sugar in each container.

Didn’t pay careful attention to the water I added, which I didn’t chlorinate.

Tip from Fernando is that 1.5 days of fermentation ends up more like juice than booze. I’ll probably do one container at 1.5 days and leave the other for 3.

This is the half batch after 2 days. I filtered the other half on day 3.

I didn’t de-chlorinate the water and wasn’t sure if I got any fermentation at all — but you can see the fizz when filling the bottle.

I didn’t have to really burp the bottles at all. Just filter into a bottle and drink!

I like the flavour. The very little ginger I used didn’t really come through at all.

Cardamom pods were the main additional flavouring. This came through with nice floral / vanilla notes.

For my taste, a little too sweet: I’ll do less sugar next time.

Fernando asked:

Any ester-y (nail polish) or phenols (clove and bandaids)?

Thinking about it and trying to describe the flavour / aroma, I think there is some cloves and nail polish hints — like some unaged, white whiskey that I’ve had (aka moonshine).

Reading some other instructions, the environment should be warmer (20-24 degrees), and could add some beer to help accelerate fermentation.

Sweet pineapple juice with cardamom / vanilla notes is a pretty nice flavour :wink: I’m looking forward to drinking this!