All The Best Recipes

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!

For more fizz to kickstart fermentation, you can make a ginger bug, which is basically like a sourdough starter for fermented drinks

This is just going to be an endless tepache post!

I made some at my parents last week and definitely got the fermentation going by leaving the water out overnight.

At home, I’m started a ginger bug with the last bit of the last cardamom tepache, grated ginger, and 2Tbsp of sugar.

Also getting the next batch of tepache going, with 1x pineapple, 2x stalks of rhubarb, a larger knob of ginger, and 1x lemon. Will the rind on the lemon make things too bitter? I used 3/4 cup of turbinado sugar, will check on it tomorrow.

Final view before bottling:

And a bottle out of the fridge several days later:

Definitely getting the fermentation. Drinking the part that doesn’t fit in the bottles we have right after filtering, strong pineapple taste, some tartness from the rhubarb, but no rhubarb flavour. Maybe a slight edge from the lemon but pretty subtle.

Drinking it now after aging, it’s gotten to be fairly Radler flavoured. A nice smell of sweet / pineapple, with a mineral / nail polish finish. Not sweet at all, to the point where Rachael says it smells like beer.

If I want a rhubarb flavour, going to need a lot more rhubarb. And, it may just be better to add the rhubarb syrup after fermenting if I want that flavour and colour.

This was just one pineapple skin and core, so nice to see that I can make 3-4 litres in 3-4 days.