In the winter months, we eat a lot of pineapple. I know, I’m supposed to promote homegrown food and local eating, that’s what we’re about. But…I still love pineapple.
I can’t get around it. And in January, they sell them for $1 each around here. Every year, after we’re done canning pineapple, I take a look a the incredible mound of pineapple peels and it just feels wasteful. There’s a lot of tasty pineapple still clinging to those peels!
Sure, the compost worms get an extra treat, but they can wait their turn!
There’s still more to be made with those pineapple peels. I ran across a recipe for a traditionally fermented tepache in the All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving. That book blows me away with all the creative and off-the-wall ways to preserve foods, well beyond simple canning.
Tepache, or “tepache de piña,” is a traditional South American Pineapple drink, made by fermenting leftover pineapple peels with a bit of sugar and spices. It’s naturally probiotic and super tasty. And…just a touch boozy.
To make Tepache, or just about any home fermented fruit or vegetable, you’ll want a fermentation kit. That’s a water lock that allows pressure to escape but doesn’t allow outside bacteria or yeasts into the ferment. This helps keep it from getting contaminated and developing off-flavors (or turning into vinegar).
For this recipe, I’m using a kit by Fermentools that looks a lot like a homebrew setup that you attach to a mason jar.
There are a number of brands of mason jar fermentation kits to choose from. Try this one. Or this one. I’m hoping at some point to try out these silicone fermentation lids from Mason Tops because they look super easy to clean.
Tepache is traditionally made with piloncillo or brown sugar, and it results in a dark caramel-colored beverage. It’s only slightly alcoholic because of the short fermentation time, so beer sometimes is added to kick it up a notch.
I made this batch with raw cane sugar, which has a small amount of molasses, but clearly not enough to bring out the dark caramel color. It resulted in a more pronounced pineapple-y flavor but lacks the richness that the molasses brings. Next time I’ll go out of my way to get a hold of some piloncillo.
Traditionally Fermented Tepache
Adapted from All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving
Yield: Roughly 6 to 8 cups
Fermentation Time: 24 to 72 hours
Batch Size: Half Gallon Canning Jar or a half batch in a wide mouth quart
1 cup Sugar (ideally, piloncillo, but brown sugar also works)
1 or 2 Pineapples, peels and cores only
6 cups Water
1 Cinnamon Stick (optional)
2 Cloves, whole (optional)
- Wash the pineapple and peel. Pineapples are easy to peel if you start by cutting off the top and bottom, and then slicing vertical strips of peel off from around the outside with a sharp knife.
- Quarter the pineapple vertically, and cut the core away from each quarter.
- Reserve the actual pineapple for another use.
- Pack the peels and cores into a half-gallon wide-mouth canning jar. Add the spices, if using.
- Dissolve the sugar in 6 cups of warm water. Pour the water and sugar mixture over the pineapple scraps, and secure the top of your mason jar with a fermentation kit.
- Allow the mixture to ferment at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours.
- Remove the fermentation kit and filter the mixture through cheesecloth.
- Apply a standard wide-mouth mason jar lid, and allow the mixture to ferment at room temperature for another 6 to 12 hours to develop carbonation. The solid lid will keep the bubbles from escaping and allow it to get fizzy.
- After that extra carbonation period, store the tepache in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. It should keep for about 2 weeks if it lasts that long.
- Serve poured over ice, mixed with sparkling water or as part of a cocktail.