Pineapple Tepache (With Variations)

Three glasses of pineapple tepache

The Spruce / Teena Agnel

Prep:
Cook: 0 mins
Fermentation Time: 0 mins
Total: 0 mins
Servings: 31 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
60 Calories
0g Fat
16g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 31
Amount per serving
Calories 60
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 9mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 15g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 4mg 18%
Calcium 17mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 34mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

One of the most refreshing beverages you might encounter is tepache de piña, a slightly fermented drink made from fresh pineapple peel and core, plus brown sugar.

In addition to its delicious flavor, tepache is efficient, too, as it uses the center part of the pineapple. You’ll love being able to take advantage of parts of the fruit that we usually just throw away or compost. It also requires an ingredient you may or may not have come into contact with before: piloncillo, a raw form of pure cane sugar that's boiled down into a cone-shaped mold and commonly used in Mexican cooking. If you live near a Mexican grocer or your supermarket has a well-stocked section of foods from around the world, you may be able to find this ingredient. If not, brown sugar will do; it's not exactly the same, but it's a close second.

It's a faster fermentation process than, say, making kombucha, but the process isn't completely different. The tepache needs to sit for a couple of days at room temperature, so if you are making this very Mexican drink for a special occasion, plan ahead of time.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon water

  • 1 large cone of​ piloncillo (about 1 pound, or approximately 1 pound of brown sugar)

  • 1 whole ripe fresh pineapple

  • 1 cinnamon stick

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for pineapple tepache
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  2. Heat the water in a large pot until it starts to boil. Take the pot off the stove, and add the piloncillo or brown sugar so it will dissolve while you are working with the pineapple. (If you are using piloncillo, it will take longer to dissolve; stir the water occasionally with a wooden spoon and break the piloncillo up as it softens to help.)

    Water heated with piloncillo dissolved in it
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  3. Cut the crown off the pineapple and discard. Wash the outside of the pineapple with water, making sure to get rid of any dirt particles or potential bugs.

    Crown cut off the top of a pineapple
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  4. Peel your pineapple on a cutting board set into the sink to reduce mess. Cut a slice off the top of the fruit, another slice off the bottom, and then slice the peel off in strips—but use your favorite method, as long as you end up with a peeled pineapple.

    Peeled pineapple on a cutting board
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  5. Once the sugar or piloncillo has dissolved into the hot water, and the sugar-water base is completely cool, place the pieces of peel into the pot. Add the stick of cinnamon.

    Pineapple peel and cinnamon in a pot
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  6. Cut the fruit of the pineapple into slices or chunks, reserving the fibrous core. Store the fruit for another use.

    Cut pineapple
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  7. Add the core, whole or in chunks, to the pot and stir.

    Add the core
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  8. Cover the pot with a dish towel, and set it on the kitchen counter or another place (at room temperature) where it is easily accessible but out of the way. The towel will keep out any foreign matter while allowing air to reach the mixture, allowing for successful fermentation.

    Cover the pot of tepache with a dish towel
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  9. After 24 to 36 hours, check your tepache. If you see a bit of frothy white foam on the surface of the water, it’s fermenting. You can drink it as is, or let it continue to brew another day or so. If you do not see any white froth, cover the pot again and check it after another 24 hours; the time necessary for fermentation will vary according to the room temperature, ripeness of the pineapple, and other factors.

    Fermenting pineapple in water and sugar
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  10. Once your tepache has reached the desired level of fermentation, strain out, and discard all the solids.

    Strain pineapple solids out of the tepache
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  11. Transfer the liquid to a pitcher and refrigerate.

    Tepache in a glass container
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  12. Before serving, take a test drink. Add more water or sugar to taste; it's not uncommon to dilute with more water.

    Tepache, water, and sugar
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel
  13. Serve over ice, if desired. Enjoy.

    Three glasses of tepache over ice
    The Spruce / Teena Agnel

Why Is My Tepache Not Fermenting?

When things go wrong with fermenting a beverage, very often it's related to temperature. It's possible that the sugar-water base did not cool completely before you added the pineapple pieces. It's also possible the ambient temperature of the room in which it was fermenting was too low. You may find it useful to look at information about kombucha brewing if you need to do some troubleshooting; the processes are similar.

Is Tepache the Same as Kombucha?

Although they are both fermented, fruity beverages, tepache and kombucha are not the same. Kombucha is a fermented tea whose process is aided by a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Tepache just requires sugar, water, and the pineapple core and skins. Kombucha undergoes a secondary fermentation process whereby other flavors and fruits are added; tepache typically does not.

How to Store Pineapple Tepache

Once it's fermented, tepache should be stored in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to a week, very slowly continuing the fermentation process. It will gradually start to smell more like vinegar the longer it keeps.

Recipe Variations

  • Add a bit of fresh-squeezed lime juice to the final product (either to the pitcher or in individual glasses) to give it an extra-refreshing punch.
  • Add a few whole cloves in addition to the cinnamon to the mixture in the pot for an additional bit of spice.
  • Add chopped fruit (pineapple, apples, etc.) to the pitcher of tepache before drinking—similar to what is done with sangria—for added fun and flavor. Serve with a straw and a spoon.