I’ve never understood the appeal of pickled watermelon rind, despite my love of not wasting useful things. It’s just too jelly like for me. So off to the garbage watermelon rind goes.
The very fragrant skin of the pineapple is an entirely different matter, and along with the otherwise thrown out core make a refreshing and lightly fizzy fermented drink called tepache. And in the case of forgetfulness, a slightly boozy home-fermented pineapple drink.
Choose a pineapple that is ripe and fragrant, but still firm. Avoid pineapples that are showing white mold between the ridges. If you cannot find piloncillo, the dark unrefined sugar cones easily found in Latin centric grocery stores, use dark brown sugar instead.
Tepache is a five to seven day process at room temperature. The longer the drink is allowed to rest, the more likely it is to develop a slight bit of alcohol. I do say a slight bit, just enough to know it’s there, not enough to get a buzz. Leaving the tepache to rest for longer than a week and a half will result in vinegar; a good, fully formed vinegar takes two or three months.
1 ripe pineapple, skin and core only
8 cups water, cold
1 - 4” cinnamon stick
1” piece of ginger
1 star anise
10 black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
Roughly chop the pineapple skin and ginger. Place in a food processor and chop until about 1/4” to 1/2” in size. Pour the ground ingredients, and any juice they may have released into a clean 1 gallon container. Break up the cinnamon stick, and lightly crush the whole spices. Add to the container, along with the water. Stir well.
Cover the container with a clean dish towel, and secure tightly around the rim with kitchen twine or plastic wrap. Tepache requires air for fermentation, and it is best to prevent any intrusion by fruit flies.
Place the container in a warm place, and allow to rest until day 3.
2 piloncillo cones, or 1 1/4 packed dark brown sugar (8 oz approx.)
2 cups water
Place the piloncillo (or brown sugar) and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow the syrup to cool completely before adding to the tepache.
Rest the tepache until white sediment has formed in the bottom, as well as a slight bit of fizz in the liquid. Taste the drink every so often, to check on the progress. When you’re satisfied with the results, strain the liquid through a very fine mesh strainer and refrigerate.
Home fermentation is never an exact science, and there are signs that the batch has gone wrong. If the pineapple develops a red hue, or a thick white film on the surface of the liquid, it is best to throw it out. I will however openly admit to having consumed many a batch that had a slight white film of mold on the surface, with no ill effects what so ever. Trust your sense of smell and taste. If the smell is of anything other than bright pineapple, or the color changes from an amber to something else, changes are, something has gone wrong.
Tepache is best served very cold, and really very enjoyable when mixed with a lager or hefeweizen.
Related: 2 + 2 = 5; Or Is There A Correct Way To Make Simple Syrup.
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