Tepache

Working in restaurants has opened my eyes to how much food waste I generate and has also exposed me to new opportunities for reducing my food waste. For example, I was prepping vegetables during a stage (a working interview) and the head chef/restaurant owner came over to my work space, reached into my trash can and pulled out all of the food scraps I had thrown away. He explained that not only did my knife cuts need to be more intentional to create less waste, but that the scraps I did have should be saved for stocks, sauces, or garnishes. Having someone go through my trash was an eye opener that caused me to reexamine my trash at home.

Reducing food waste can be accomplished by using the entire plant and also by giving scraps new life. Tepache is an example of the latter. While the pineapple skins used in this recipe will ultimately be discarded (and hopefully composted), they provide a refreshing secondary product with little effort.

Tepache is native to Veracruz and the difference between tepache and the other fermented pineapple drinks in Latin America is the use of piloncillo, a cone-shaped brown sugar loaf that translates to “little pylon.” This recipe can be made with brown sugar instead of piloncillo but it will lack much of the flavor complexity that piloncillo provides. Piloncillo can be found at most major grocery stores in the produce section near the tropical fruits.

Ingredients

Skin of 1 Pineapple (Sides and Bottom only, not the top)
6 oz. Piloncillo
1 L Water

Instructions

1. Add the water and pilocillo to a pot. Bring to a boil. As the water heats up, the piloncillo should soften. Use a spoon to break up the loaf to help it dissolve.

2. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the pot from heat. The goal is to simply dissolve the sugar, not to reduce the water to a create a heavy syrup. Allow the mixture to cool for 30 minutes.

3. Add the pineapple skins and sugar water to a glass jar. I use this 1.5 L jar from Target. Cover the jar with cheesecloth, a kitchen towel, or a coffee filter and secure with a rubber band or hair tie.

4. Label and date the jar. It’s one of the most important rules of the kitchen and it will ensure an accurate record for how long the tepache has been fermenting.

5. Store the jar in a dark place for 3 – 5 days where it won’t be disturbed. After 3 days, the tepache should be taste both sour and sweet while also being noticeably lighter in color. If there isn’t a sour, fermented taste, let it sit for another day or longer until it reaches the right amount of sour for you.

6. Strain the tepache through a fine mesh strainer into a jar for storage. The tepache can be enjoyed at this point or it can be bottled for a second fermentation. A second fermentation will add carbonation without adding sourness. To do this, store the tepache in a bottle or jar with a secure lid in a dark spot for 2 more days. Then, store in the refrigerator to stop the fermentation process.

Day 1 of Fermentation
Day 4 of Fermentation

Make It Your Own

Techape, like any fermented beverage, can be customized an infinite number of ways. You can add ginger, jalapeños, cinnamon, or orange juice to the pineapple skins in the fermentation process, to name a few examples.


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