awhile back, my neighbor asked me if i’d ever had tepache, a homemade fermented pineapple drink. he does a few home fermentations, and this one is a family recipe he brought from mexico. he shared a glass of his latest brew with me on a hot day last year and i was hooked! tepache is a basic countertop fermentation of pineapple skins and sugar in a large, wide-mouth glass jar covered with cheese cloth. it ends up tasting like a pineapple-scented kombucha of sorts, and is often brewed with a cinnamon stick.

a little online research revealed that there are lots of variations on the recipe, so i think anything goes so long as you like it. some people use the whole pineapple while others only use the skins. some favor piloncillo [an unrefined sugar shaped into a cone] others table sugar, and i’ve had similar success using honey and coconut sugar. some advise to add a beer to get it started and drink after 2 days, others stir regularly over a week or so using only the natural yeasts on the fruit and in the air.

i like my neighbor’s recipe best because i get to reserve the tender fruit and make a live fermentation out of just the scraps! until i get to try piloncillo, i’ve been happy with honey, coconut sugar, and raw sugar. it seems the fermentation process eats most of it anyway, i should be clear, this is NOT a sweet drink. it’s more of a tonic, a wild fermentation with a bit of an aquired taste, and less than 1% of alcohol, if any. very refreshing on a hot day, over ice, mixed with ice tea, or even as a shandy with beer. i bet it would also make a weirdly wonderful tepache-mosa with champagne. here’s my neighbor’s method, below:

tepache – makes 1 gallon

skins and core of 1 pineapple
up to 1 cup sugar of your preference
.5 tsp baking soda
.5 tsp salt

1-gallon wide-mouth jar
mesh fabric or cheese cloth
large rubber band or chef’s string

gently wash your pineapple to remove dirt or debris, but not with soap in order not to lose the natural yeasts that come with the fruit, which will get the fermentation going. cut the top and base off the fruit and discard. trim the skins off the fruit, cutting off as little fruit as possible. cut out the core using your preferred method [i quarter the fruit lengthwise and cut the core out of each quarter lengthwise on an angle]. chop all these trimmings into large pieces, about 1″ square or so. reserve the remaining pineapple fruit for another use.

place pineapple scraps, salt & baking soda in a 1-gallon wide-mouth jar. add the sugar you prefer, up to 1 cup. i say this, because i’ve used quite a bit less with similar results. i use about half a cup currently. fill the jar with water, stir and cover with a mesh or cheese cloth, tie it down around the mouth of the jar, and set on the counter to ferment. stir regularly, “whenever you think of it” my neighbor says, to keep pineapple scraps from sitting at the surface in the air. you may see a thin white film form on the surface. this is common to countertop fermentations, just stir it back in and keep going.

taste after 5 days. it should be tart and robust, similar to kombucha. i’ve left it out up to 10 days, again with no problems. flavor should become sharper the longer fermentation continues. when you like it, strain and refrigerate.

my neighbor serves it over ice on a glass with a salt rim. try it straight first, and then pair it up however you like. enjoy!

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