First it was kombucha, then it was kefir. Now, a new fermented beverage is sweeping the wellness industry and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.
Tepache, the Mesoamerican probiotic powerhouse made from fermented pineapple rinds, is refreshingly delicious, oh-so-fizzy, and chock-full of good-for-your-gut bacteria. Low in both ABV and calories, it’s the perfect beverage to add to your routine as pineapple season hits full swing.
Best of all, unlike kombucha, tepache is incredibly easy to DIY and requires no SCOBY or fancy equipment. Save now and thank us later, as this delightful drink will quickly become a seasonal favorite to enjoy with friends and family or keep all for yourself.
What is Tepache? A Longstanding History
While up-and-coming across international markets, tepache is far from anything new. In fact, tepache is a beverage with deep Indigenous roots, dating back to pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The term tepache derives from the word ‘tepiati’ of the Uto-Aztecan language, Nahuatl, meaning ‘corn water’ or ‘drink of corn.’ Over time, this word evolved to become synonymous with the fermented pineapple rind drink which, to this day, can still be commonly found across modern-day Mexico with vendors positioned alongside roads or within local taquerías.
Tepache Health Benefits
Rich in probiotics, tepache promotes overall gut health by flooding your stomach with good-for-your gut bacteria. This bacteria goes on to strengthen your body and immune system to fight against infections and illnesses, while also promoting improved mental health, anti-inflammation, and proper digestion.
In addition to being a probiotic superstar, tepache also contains vitamin C, potassium, calcium and, less commonly known, bromelain. Bromelain assists with absorbing nutrients, contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties, and even helps protect against intestinal parasites.
Repurposing Scraps for a Low-Waste Treat
In addition to the health benefits, tepache is also an incredibly sustainable drink and perfect for all scrappy bakers and makers. Typically considered a ‘waste’ material, pineapple rinds are the star of tepache, containing wild yeast that helps the drink naturally ferment. It’s zero-waste and essentially cost-free, making it a no-brainer for those looking to scrimp and save.
Make Your Own Tepache
To make your own tepache at home, gather a glass jar, one whole pineapple, half a cup of brown sugar, cheesecloth or a towel, and some air tight bottles.
Optional flavor enhancers include a cinnamon stick, cloves, ginger, and chilis during the initial fermentation stage, and tequila or rum after fermenting for an extra punch.
Please Note: Tepache is an unpasteurized beverage and contains a higher risk for foodborne risk and could adversely affect immunocompromised individuals or people who are pregnant. For a non-DIY option, De La Calle offers shelf-stable tepache available for purchase here.
Cut the pineapple into pieces, peeling off the pineapple rind and coring out the center. Remove the pineapple crown and base, and rinse to remove any residue off the rind.
Pour brown sugar and water into the glass jar, stirring until dissolved. Add pineapple rinds and core, keeping the pineapple submerged under the water with fermentation weights or heavy objects such as a small jar or glass.
Note: Any additional ingredients should also be fully submerged during the fermentation process to prevent mold.
Cover the top with cheese cloth or a dish towel, and wrap with a rubber band. Store somewhere dark at room temperature (around 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1-3 days. (I recommend storing it in a cabinet.)
Once fermented, remove the pineapple rinds and other ingredients, transferring the liquid to airtight bottles. You can either store the tepache in the fridge right away or, as Live Eat Learn suggests, undergo a second ferment for an additional 24 to 48 hours. At this point, the drink should be fizzy, carbonated, and slightly vinegary. Once it reaches the desired level of carbonation, store in a fridge for up to a week and enjoy!
Note: If you undergo a second fermentation, make sure to ‘burp’ the bottle two or three times throughout each day (meaning opening and closing the cap), to prevent bottle explosions or excessive CO2 build-up.
Kombucha may have had its phase, but tepache is faster to make and requires no ongoing maintenance—all the while offering all the same health benefits of kombucha for a fraction of the effort and cost.
Low in calories but high in flavor, celebrate this summer with a fizzy glass of tepache and toast to tasty treats that improve overall gut and digestive health.
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Photo: Dana Drosdick