The hot summer months are one of the best times to ‘drink your cultures’! With the warm days and abundance of fresh seasonal fruits the wild and cultured yeasts are in their element. Many traditions throughout the world have fermented drinks some more alcoholic than others. Most are very easy to make by the addition of fruits and sugar.
Today the focus will be fruit waters or ‘fresh waters’, otherwise known as aguas frescas in Mexico.
For the following recipes the basics are all the same. To produce a beverage, a starter culture strain, such as water kefir grains, will be needed or the available wild yeast may be used.
Tepache de Pina: Mexican Homemade Pineapple Brew
Fermented/Cultured – Vegan – RAW
A classic aguas frescas commonly sold by street vendors throughout Mexico. The drinks are prepared with a combination of sugar, grains, and cut or pulped fruits. The flavors range from Tepache, Papaya, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Lemon, horchata (hibiscus flower), fruits like oranges, banana, mango, and even jamaica or cucumbers.
- 1 Pineapple – Ripe or canned, diced or pulped.
Hint: Save some of the pineapple for a garnish when serving
- 1 cup or large cone of Piloncillo, cut in pieces, or use an organic sugar/molasses combination, or dark brown sugar.
- 2 quarts of filtered water
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 3 cloves
Easy for wild fermentation. Combine all ingredients into a large pitcher or ceramic pot. Cover with plastic wrap or several layers of cheese cloth. Allow to set for 12 to 24 hours. Remove any white foam that may have formed. Cover again and allow the Tepache to set for 12 to 20 more hours, or until taste is correct. Adjust the sugar level if needed. Dilute the finished beverage with water, if the taste is to strong/sweet. Strain and Chill.
Serve by the glass garnished with a slice of pineapple.
If using water kefir to culture the beverage, combine the water, fruit, and sugar allowing it to set for 12 to 20 hrs. Remove the kefir grains from the mix and add in the optional ingredients if desired. Allow beverage to set another 12 to 20 hours, until taste is to one’s liking. Finish as above.
Notes: DO NOT let it ferment longer unless you need pineapple vinegar which is used to flavor other condiments pickled chipotle peppers.
Mexican Strawberry Water (Aguas de Frescas)
Fermented/Cultured – Vegan – RAW
Another simple Tepache, this one made with strawberries, mint leaves, and lime. A very refreshing summertime beverage, this frescas brings the cooling properties of mint and the tartness of lime.
- 4 cups strawberries, quartered
- 1 cup cane sugar or any sugar
- 8 cup cold water or cultured water kefir
- 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges (optional)
- Mint leaves, fresh (optional)
Mix strawberries, sugar, and 2 cups water in a bowl. Cover and allow it to set for 4 hours. This will help to remove the juice from the berries.
Take the strawberry mixture and pour into a blender. Add some of the fresh mint and lime, if desired. Blend on high until smooth. Pour the blended berry mixture through a wire mesh strainer set over a large mixing bowl; discard the pulp and seeds if desired.
Add the remaining 7 cups cold water to the pureed strawberries and mix well. Place the Aqua de Frescas in the refrigerator to chill for several hours or pour over ice and serve immediately.
Garnish with lime slices and/or mint leaves.
If using water kefir in this recipe the strawberries may be added when making the kefir. Then the whole amount is blended after removal of the water kefir grains. Fresh berries may be added when blending if the sugar content has dropped to low.