Story Detail

02 Oct 2015

Tepache: Light and Refreshing Pineapple “Beer”

Vox Orbis / 02 Oct 2015 Fermentation

Photo: Tepache is a traditional Mexican drink made of lightly fermented pineapples. CIAT/Flickr

Language:  Spanish (Español)

Lourdes Barrientos

When I was a child, growing up in Puebla, Mexico, I was not aware of the grand cultural heritage that surrounded me. I took for granted so many things, flavors, aromas, sounds and traditions as day-to-day, normal happenings.

Puebla is a central state in the Mexican Republic. Its capital, the city of Puebla, is an old colonial city full of history and famous for its delicious food and drinks. I will tell you about tepache today.

Do you know how you can tell if a pineapple is ripe and sweet? The secret: Pull the central leaf from the green crown of leaves. If it comes out easily, you have found a good, ripe pineapple. Wash it very well, peel it, and—wait! Save those rinds.

Photo: Tepache is made with pineapple and a solid form of sugar called “piloncillo,” pictured at front. Lourdes Barrientos

In a large container or cooking pot, put “piloncillo” if available, or plenty of dark brown sugar, and enough water to cover the pineapple rinds. Now, the fermentation process begins. Cover the pot and leave it alone for one to three days. Cover it well or you will have many gnats—unwelcomed visitors—in your kitchen. If you want this drink to be mild, leave it fermenting just overnight. If you prefer it a bit stronger, two days. By day three, it will be a homemade alcoholic drink; if you will, “pineapple beer.”

Tepache is served at room temperature in Mexico. The whole family drinks it, and in my family, we all thought it was a treat. It does foam up, and it should be left undisturbed by the kitchen window.

The word “tepache” appears to be related to a verb from the Nahuatl language meaning, "to bruise or pound something.” The drink was enjoyed by the native Mexican culture hundreds of years before the European conquest in the early 1500s.


Lourdes Barrientos for Vox Orbis, 2015