July 28, 2010 6:30 PM
Crazy for Tepache

I am crazy for Tepache. Gently sweet, with an innocent hint of home brewed alcohol, a deep freshness and a gorgeous amber color.

Tepache: A home made fermented drink that comes from the state of Jalisco - also breeding ground of other Mexican symbols like Tequila, Charros and Mariachis. Tepache has a base of fresh pineapple, true cinnamon, piloncillo and water and has been drank in Mexico since Pre-Colonial times.

I have made it many times throughout my life.

First, when Daniel and I moved to Texas, to celebrate our finding piloncillo at a U.S. grocery store. Later, when we moved to DC, to soothe the heat of that first long summer and to make our new home, feel like home. A couple years ago, I brewed liters to share with a large crowd for a class I taught on foods from Jalisco.

Then, I forgot about it. Until this summer, when we moved, the heat started pumping up and I unpacked my old clay pot from Tlaquepaque, Jalisco. A pot that is perfect for brewing Tepache, which is so simple to make. That is, if you can keep an eye on it.  

You need to find a ripe pineapple. Almost entirely yellow and soft to the touch.

Tepache 1b.jpg

After you rinse it, remove the top.

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Do away with the bottom too...

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Cut into thick slices, whichever way you want, horizontal or vertical, including the peel. The peel will help the drink ferment and give it an interesting depth of flavor.

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Cut the slices into thick chunks (yeah, I do love my knife...)

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There you go, the gorgeous work of a fine, loyal knife...(I so, so, so, love my knife)

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Pour water into the pot. If you don't have a clay pot, use any kind of large pot...
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Drop in a cinnamon stick, preferably true cinnamon, if handy...

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Drop in the piloncillo, which gives anything it touches that rustic small Pueblo flavor. Just throw it all in there. No need to chop. No need to shred. It will dilute in the water as you bring it to a simmer.

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Oh..., and five or six whole cloves, for that touch of spice.

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Bring it to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. You know the liquid is ready when the piloncillo has diluted and you get this lovely light brown color...

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Light amber.

Here, you can see the color of the liquid better with my grandmother's glass spoon. Light amber.

Gorgeous amber.

And it gets even better after you add the pineapple... 

Tepache 12b.jpg

Turn off the heat, and add the pineapple chunks.

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Cover the pot and let the mixture sit and rest, and begin to ferment, for two days, or about 48 hours. Any area of your kitchen is fine, preferably the warmest area, where you won't have to move the pot around for that period of time.

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After two days, the liquid will begin to show some bubbles. That's when its ready for you to pour in the beer to speed up the fermentation process. You can go the old fashioned way, and not add any beer and let it sit for another week, or more...  
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Any lager that you like. Dos Equis works for me.

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Cover the mix, and let it sit for about 12 to 15 hours more.

Now, remember I just said Tepache is so simple to make, if you can keep an eye on it? Well, right after I poured the beer in this step above, I had to leave for New York. My husband was left in charge of keeping an eye on the Tepache, but he was too busy keeping an eye on our three monsters.

So the Tepache ended up tasting like vinegar.

The trick is, right after you pour the beer, don't let it sit for more than 12 to 15 hours. After that time, strain it and either drink it or place it in a big pitcher in the refrigerator.  

So there I went again... and this time, we were all keeping an eye on the Tepache. It went so fast!

Now we are at it again, once more... But my lesson learned: you have to watch your own Tepache.

Serves 8-10


1 ripe pineapple, or about 3 cups
4 liters water, or 16 cups
1 pound piloncillo, or dark brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
1 cup lager beer

Using the traditional big eathenware jug (or a large pot), bring to a boil the 16 cups water along with the piloncillo, cinnamon stick, and whole cloves. Simmer, stirring once in a while, for about 10 minutes or until the piloncillo has dissolved.

While the water is simmering, wash the pineapple thoroughly, and remove the stem and bottom. Cut it into 2 inch cubes, without taking off its rind.

Once the flavored water is ready, add in the pineapple chunks and cover. Let rest for 2 days, or 48 hours, in a warm area of you kitchen. The mixture will begin to ferment and bubble on the surface. Add a cup of lager beer, stir well, and let it sit for up to 12 hours more. Don't let it ferment much longer, or you may end up with vinegar instead!

Strain tepache through a fine strainer or cheesecloth, and serve very cold. You can either refrigerate it or serve over ice cubes.