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I love pineapple, and was always a bit sad that you had to waste the rind. A good friend of mine introduced me to tepache and all this changed. All you need is sugar, the rind, spices, and a bit of patience to make a delicious and refreshing beverage that's also a great base for cocktails.
1 ripe pineapple
6 ounces of unrefined sugar, traditional is piloncillo, but any dark sugar will work
Remove the greens from the pineapple (these can be used as drink garnishes if they are in good shape) then thoroughly wash the fruit to remove any dirt.
In a small saucepan dissolve the sugar in a couple cups of water.
Peel the pineapple and transfer the peels and core to a jar or crock. I personally like to use bail top jars for fermenting because the design lets any built up pressure naturally release, but still keeps a good seal. Reserve the fruit for another use, like my crispy pork shoulder.
Add the spices to the pineapple, pour the sugar syrup over, then add more water to cover, about 10 more cups.
Seal the jar, or cover whatever other container you are using, and allow to ferment. It will go faster or slower depending on the temperature of the room, you'll know it's working because you will see bubbles and foam at the top. Taste after 2 days, it should be tart and balanced, if not, give it another day. When it's to your liking, filter out the solids.
You can enjoy it right away, room temp or chilled. If you'd like to naturally carbonate it, add the tepache to bottles that can withstand pressure (soda bottles are perfect), squeeze out any extra air, seal, then let sit at room temperature for a couple days before refrigerating. It will keep for at least a couple week in the fridge.
Feel free also to sweeten to your tastes, it's a naturally low sugar drink as most of the sugar is fermented out.
• If you don't have whole spices handy you can always use a blend! Sri Lanka is a pretty close match for the above. Try 2 teaspoons to start.
• You can continue the fermentation, adding an additional 6 ounces of sugar at the two day mark, and you will end up with a tasty vinegar after about a week. I love using it in salad dressings, marinades, and as a beverage mixed with seltzer.
• I love using it as a base for cocktails. One fun one: 1 ounce tepache, 1.5 ounces tequila, 1/2 of a small lemon, 1/2 of a lime. Muddle the lemon and lime with the tequila, add tepache and ice and seltzer. You can sweeten this to your tastes with simple syrup.
• Try a bit of sweetened tepache in place of orange juice in a mimosa. or make a shandy with beer.
Food images and recipe © Christian Leue.
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