Tepache de Piña (with step-by-step photos)

This Tepache de Piña is tropical, with a sweet-tart flavor, and perfect to enjoy all year round. If you are a Mexican food and culture lover, you can’t pass by without trying this fermented drink.

Tepache de piña in a bottle and some served in glasses.

What Is Tepache de Piña?

Tepache de Piña is a Mexican traditional drink made of pineapple peel, piloncillo, and spices. Once prepared, it’s left to ferment for a couple of days and then is served chilled.

The name Tepache originates from the Náhuatl word tepiatl which means “drink made from corn”, this is because in old times this fermented drink was made using corn instead of pineapple.

Over time, the recipe evolved, and corn was replaced with pineapple and other fruits. However, in some rural communities in southern Mexico, tepache is still made with corn, similar to Tejuino.

There’s not only one way of making this beverage in Mexico. Almost every state or region has its own recipe and some may include other types of fruits, spices, or as in ancient times, corn.

A large jar with tepache de piña.

Tepache de Piña has a unique fruity, sweet, and tart flavor with some cinnamon notes or, depending on the spices used, will also have another earthy aftertaste.

You can easily make it at home. This drink is perfect to beat the summer heat. You can drink it straight out of the bottle, or mix it with sparkling water, or use it in a tepache cocktail. Either way, it is refreshing, light, and flavorful.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Pineapple: You will need a large ripe pineapple, the ripest, the better to make tepache as it will ferment quicker.
  • Piloncillo: Also known as “panela”, it has a strong sweet, rich and deep flavor which gives a particular taste to this drink. You can find this ingredient at many Latin-American or Mexican food stores or online. You can substitute it with molasses, jaggery, or muscovado sugar.
  • Cinnamon: If you already made a trip to the Mexican grocery, ask also for rama de canela (Mexican cinnamon), otherwise use any type of cinnamon stick available to you.
  • Whole cloves: Use only 2 for a subtle flavor.
  • Water: You will need 3 quarts of filtered water
Close-up of foamy tepache de piña on a jar.

Now, let’s see how to make this Mexican fermented pineapple drink recipe!

How To Make Tepache de Piña

Wash very well your pineapple under running cold water and use a brush to remove all dust.

Peel it and set aside the peel and core. Save the pulp for other recipes.

Peeled and cut pineapple on a cutting board.

In a medium pot pour 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add piloncillo or brown sugar and set heat to the lowest while stirring constantly, until the piloncillo has dissolved. Allow to cool down.

Dissolving piloncillo on water.

Place the pineapple peel and the core cut into chunks in a large water jar. You can also use a plastic container or even better, a clay pot.

Pineapple (piña) peels placed on a large jar.

Pour in the piloncillo water, cinnamon sticks, and whole cloves. You can also add peppercorns (about 1/2 tsp) if you want.

Adding spices to the jar to make tepache de piña.

Add the remaining water and mix everything very well.

Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place the jar on your kitchen countertop and let it sit for 24 hours.

Mixture for tepache de piña just made in a jar before fermentation.

If the weather is warm enough, within the first 12 hours you will notice some small bubbles and a bit of foam will appear on the surface, those are clear signs that there’s some activity (fermentation) going on.

Tepache after 12 hours with some tiny bubbles on top.

After 24 hours you’ll see some white foam formed on top, if you don’t see it, cover again the jar and allow it to rest for another day or two.

Tepache de piña after 36 hours with foam on top. View from above.

The time for fermentation will vary according to some factors such as room temperature, ripeness of pineapple, and how much piloncillo you added.

The one you see below was after 72 hrs at about 75°F/24°C room temperature.

Close-up of foam on tepache de piña.

Once your tepache de piña is ready, strain it and discard the peel and spices. Then transfer to bottles and store in the fridge or serve in glasses with ice.

Recipe Notes & Tips

Here are a few things you should keep in mind when making this tepache recipe:

  • Once you dissolve piloncillo in water, wait for it to reach room temperature before adding it to pineapple peels.
  • When using molasses instead of piloncillo, you have to use it directly without simmering it in water.
  • Make sure to wash well the pineapple, and use a brush to remove all the dirt that accumulates in the peel.
  • If you see pineapple peels floating after the fermenting process starts, carefully push them down, but make sure to not mix or you’ll stop the fermentation process. 
  • Don’t let it ferment for more than three days or it will turn into vinegar.
  • When tasting, always use a clean spoon to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Do not use reactive utensils such as metal to ferment or store the drink. You’ll get the best results from using glass, ceramic, or clay jars and wooden spoons.
Glasses with tepache de pina on a marble surface.

Recipe Variations

  • Other spices: You can use also all-spice, black peppercorns, or star anise for an earthy touch.
  • Other fruits: Mix in the peel of other fruits such as apples or mango to give an extra fruity flavor, even if it’s not traditional, it will taste great!
  • Citrusy: Orange peel, lemon, or lime peel adds also some citrus flavor.

How To Drink It

The best way to drink tepache de piña is cold, you can place the bottle in the fridge and chill or you can also serve it over ice in glasses.

If you think the flavor is too strong, you can dilute it a bit with sparkling or still water. Or even better, mix it with coconut water for an extra tropical “punch”.

My grandpa Gabino loved to drink it very cold from the fridge and add one or two teaspoons of bicarbonate (baking soda). It adds a nice bubbly and fizz kick!

Clouse-up of Tepache de pina on a glass. View from above.

How To Store

Once fermented, strain the tepache and transfer it to bottles using a funnel or pour it into a large pitcher. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Take in mind that it will continue to slowly ferment during this time so make sure to open the lid of the containers to release any excess air.

Do not store for longer because the flavor will change the longer it sits and become very sour.

FAQ

Why my tepache doesn’t have bubbles?

Make sure you use a ripe pineapple and that wash it with cold water as hot water might kill the fruit’s natural yeast. Also, weather plays an important role in this recipe, if it’s too cold, the fermentation will take longer. Still, if after 2 days there are no signs of fermentation (small bubbles), you may need to discard that batch and start a new one from scratch.

It is alcoholic?

Because of the fermentation process, this beverage also has a low content of alcohol. Something about 2% or even less, depending on how long it ferments or how much sweetness you add, but nothing too strong!

Is tepache de pina a good mixer for cocktails?

Yes! You can use this Mexican fermented drink to make cocktails with tequila or beer.

How long does tepache last?

Unfortunately, once it is fermented, this Mexican fermented pineapple drink doesn’t last for a very long time. Although you can store it in the refrigerator, its flavor will deteriorate slowly, and it will end up as vinegar. So, it is better to consume it within three days after fermentation. 

Is tepache healthy?

Like many other fermented drinks, Tepache de piña is packed with beneficial bacteria and probiotics that help your digestive system and promote a healthy gut. And don’t forget pineapple that pineapple skin will also infuse the drink with vitamins and minerals.
Related article: Benefits of fermented drinks/foods – bbcgoodfod.com

What is piloncillo?

Piloncillo is actually raw cane sugar. It is one of the main ingredients of this recipe. It is also the most commonly used sweetener in traditional Mexican cuisine. Piloncillo is also known as Mexican brown sugar. That is because, like brown sugar, it is also an unprocessed version of cane sugar.

Other Mexican Drinks Recipes

Tepache de Piña Recipe.

Tepache (Mexican fermented pineapple drink)

author Maricruz
12
Tepache is a delicious fermented, bubbly, and sweet drink made by fermenting pineapple peels with piloncillo and spices. Serve chilled or over ice.
prep 10 minutes
cook 5 minutes
Resting time 3 days
total 3 days 15 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 large ripe pineapple – about 2.2lb (well washed)
  • 12 oz piloncillo (or brown sugar)
  • 2 small sticks of cinnamon
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 3 quarts filtered water

Instructions
 

  • Peel the pineapple and set aside the peel and core.
  • In a medium pot pour 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  • Add piloncillo or brown sugar and reduce heat to the lowest. Stir constantly, until the piloncillo has dissolved. Allow to cool down.
  • Place the pineapple peel and the core cut into chunks in a large water jar. You can also use a plastic container or a clay pot.
  • Add piloncillo water, cinnamon sticks, and whole cloves to the jar.
  • Add the remaining water and mix everything very well.
  • Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place the jar on the countertop and let it sit for 24 hours.
  • If the weather is warm enough, within the first 12 hours you will notice some small bubbles and a bit of foam will appear on the surface.
  • After 24 hours you’ll see some white foam formed on top. Cover again the jar and allow it to rest for another day or two.
  • Between 36 and 72 hours your tepache will be ready and with lots of foam on top.
  • Once your tepache is ready, strain it and discard the peel and spices. Then transfer to bottles and serve over ice or store in the fridge.

Notes

  • Once you dissolve piloncillo in water, wait for it to reach room temperature before adding it to pineapple peels.
  • When using molasses instead of piloncillo, you have to use it directly without simmering it in water.
  • Make sure to wash well the pineapple, and use a brush to remove all the dirt that accumulates in the peel.
  • If you see pineapple peels floating after the fermenting process starts, carefully push them down, but make sure to not mix or you’ll stop the fermentation process. 
  • Don’t let it ferment for more than three days or it will turn into vinegar.
  • When tasting, always use a clean spoon to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Do not use reactive utensils such as metal to ferment or store the drink. You’ll get the best results from using glass, ceramic, or clay jars and wooden spoons.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 139kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 13mg | Potassium: 82mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 44IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg
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