THE HISTORY OF TEPACHE
Tepache is a fermented beverage made from the peel and the rind of pineapples, and is sweetened either with piloncillo or brown sugar, seasoned with powdered cinnamon, and served cold.
In Mexico, tepache is usually sold as a chilled drink by street vendors. It is usually stored in barrels to make the fermentation process faster. It is served either in a clay mug or in a clear plastic bag with a straw inserted for easier travel. In the U.S., it is sold in juice bars or traditional Mexican restaurants in the Mexican American communities of the Southwestern United States. The fermentation process for making tepache is simple and quick, which makes tepache a drink readily produced at home.
Fermentation and history
Mexican cuisine since the pre-Columbian era has used culinary techniques for the conservation, production and creation of its food and beverages. Among them is the fermentation carried out with local products such as corn, cocoa, prickly pears, tunas, mead and tree bark among others, giving rise to a great variety of preparations that still persist today.
These preparations were of great importance, not only in the ritual activity of each region, but also formed an indispensable component in the daily diet of different social groups. It is estimated that in Mexico, there are still around 200 fermented beverages and foods, among them tesgüino, pozol, sour atole, pulque and tepache to mention a few.
With the arrival of the Spaniards, some beverages underwent changes in their elaboration, as a result of the opening of new trade routes with neighboring lands to our country, which allowed the introduction of new materials. Such was the case of the “tepache” that used to be prepared exclusively with crushed corn kernels and water. The brown sugar was added to this preparation, which was used to sweeten it and accelerate the fermentation process. Little by little, small pieces of fruits were added, such as guava, apple, orange and pineapple, adding spices to give it an aromatic touch.
This amber colored elixir has different versions of its etymological origin. Some historians attribute its name to the word Tepatzi, from the Opata language which means “Place of beautiful women”. Another statement from the Nahuatl word would be Tepatl, having as a translation “corn drink”. A third meaning is preserved that suggests Tepachoa, also a Nahuatl word that means “to grind, to press something with a stone.”