Tepache

Another great cocktail ingredient

"Yeast in the pineapple rind reacts with the sugar and the sugar in the pineapple to create a refreshing, mildly alcoholic beer-like beverage."


Tepache is a sweet fermented beverage with historical Mexican origins. In pre-Columbian times, it was made from fermented corn, which is where the word 'tepache', meaning 'drink made from corn', comes from. In modern times, it has been made with pineapple and pineapple rind, and can be consumed on its own, mixed with beer or soda, and as an ingredient in cocktails. 

Fermentation of tepache is brief and, as a result, the alcohol content is low - between one and two percent by volume. Yeast in the pineapple rind reacts with the sugar and the sugar in the pineapple to create a refreshing, mildly alcoholic beer-like beverage. 

As with many cocktail ingredients, there is some room for creativity in the making of tepache. Typically, it is made with piloncillo, pineapple, pineapple rind, cloves, cinnamon and tamarind. Piloncillo is unrefined sugar produced from the boiling and contraction of whole sugar cane juice. Produced in Latin America as a solid in a pyramid shape, it has a earthy, smoky caramel flavour. It is also very difficult to find in Canadian supermarkets.

While I will definitely keep my eye out for piloncillo to use in future tepache batches (and syrups, etc.), I substituted brown sugar in my recipe. I figured this would be the closest thing to matching the sweetness and flavour profile of the piloncillo. I'll try other sweeteners (Demerara sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.) as I continue to experiment.

I also added some chopped poblano pepper to my recipe. The poblano fits well with tepache, both culturally and flavour-wise. In addition to the spice, it adds a bit of earthiness that's missing from the brown sugar. And what pepper is more Mexican than the poblano? 

RECIPE

  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple and pineapple rind
  • 3 tamarind pods
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped poblano pepper

Combine all ingredients in a sealable 500ml (16oz) jar.

Fill jar with water until about 4/5 full and shake thoroughly.

Leave to sit unrefrigerated for 3-5 days (shake gently daily)

Double strain liquid into a sealable bottle.

Refrigerate for another three days before serving.

*Note that the ingredients will ferment throughout the process and that gasses will build up over time. Do not fill the jar or bottle all the way to the top to avoid danger or making a mess.