Updated: Nov 12
Why spend money in the stores on kefir or kombucha? It’s easy enough to make them at home. Or, as some find, not. The constant cycle of feeing the beast can be troublesome. We find that the simplest drinking ferment is tepache, a Mexican beverage using pineapple peels as the base.
The scientific evidence is clear, for good gut health: eat a fibre rich diet (full of prebiotics, dietary fibre that feeds your good bacteria) and enjoy fermented foods (probiotics, these are good bacteria) that need the prebiotics to feed them.
To make tepache you will need:
A 1 to 2 litre capacity glass jar with a lid. Recycle something or buy from a store.
The peel from one pineapple. (discard the base and top)
3 heaped tablespoons of sugar.
Optional: grated organic ginger, whole cloves, cinnamon stick, a fresh chile pod.
Note: Best to use an organic pineapple if you can get one. Or, if this is costly or difficult, wash the pineapple to remove pesticides and leave it on a windowsill or balcony - exposed to nature - so that it can pick up some natural yeasts. If you do this buy a pineapple that is not quite ripe so that it can ripen during the process. Most of the pineapples we use are non-organic.
Jar – this needs to be clean and sterile. We use boiling water to wash it and/or steam for a few minutes.
Top and tail the pineapple, discard these parts.
Slice off the outer peel, keep these parts.
Put the peel into your container, add the sugar and any of the optional flavours / items.
Cover with fresh water, filtered is best.
Cover the top of the jar to keep out flies, ants etc. I use kitchen towel and secure with an elastic band.
Leave on sideboard or counter, no direct sunlight. Or, in a cupboard.
In the warm Singapore climate leave for 48 hours. You should see signs of fermentation after about 24 to 36 hours: foam on the surface, bubbles or a cloudiness in the liquid.
After 48 hours the tepache is likely ready. Smell it, it should be sweet and pineappley. You could leave it longer, say, 72 hours – this is really a matter of taste and experience. Sometimes the liquid is sweet, sometimes ‘beery’ depending on the microbiome of the peels.
Strain the liquid into a bottle. We use a funnel and a muslin cloth or the 'sock' for filtering Singapore kopi. Discard the pineapple skin and other ingredients. Loosely cap the bottle, as fermentation might still take place albeit slowly and we don't want to create a pressure build up in the bottle. At this stage some might want to create a fizzy tepache but we will not delve into that stage here, yet. Refrigerate and enjoy! Every time you do this your confidence will increase, you will also find that the drink differs.
Don’t be afraid, try it out, it’s only pineapple peels. Once you’ve done it once you will see how simple the process is.
There are plenty of online resources and videos. We follow Sandor Katz at Wild Fermentation. He has a fantastic YouTube channel “sandorkraut” and a shot a particularly inspiring series of fermentation videos in Sichuan.
If you get into fermenting it is worthwhile to buy a couple of proper fermenting jars and accessories. Wide mouth jars (1 or 1.5 litre size), lids / pickle pipes (a silicon lid with hole to allow the gasses to escape) and pickle pebbles (to use as a weight in the jar). The “Ball" and "Mason" brands are good.
Alastair and Felicia
A healthy diet, including fermented products, addresses one of the pillars of health. What else can you focus on to maximise your health and longevity?
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Gutiérrez-Sarmiento W, Peña-Ocaña BA, Lam-Gutiérrez A, Guzmán-Albores JM, Jasso-Chávez R, Ruíz-Valdiviezo VM. Microbial community structure, physicochemical characteristics and predictive functionalities of the Mexican tepache fermented beverage. Microbiol Res. 2022 Jul;260:127045. doi: 10.1016/j.micres.2022.127045. Epub 2022 Apr 22. PMID: 35525167.