Summer Sipping: Pineapple Tereré
Article by Kevin Vaughn.
There are a number of tall tale signs that winter is far behind us and summer is quickly on the approach. The flower bush in my patio has bloomed, my overhead fan (and the familiar kill me now buzz of mosquitos) has begun to make regular nightly appearances and a bus driver smiled and responded de nada today when I said gracias. But more so, when I round my corner every day the asado master at my neighborhood parrilla, the patriarch of a chaqueño family who makes the only chinculines I will eat in this city is outside sipping on tereré. From now until next April his silver highball cup and gallon water jug will always be waiting for him at his table. Only the most loyal of regulars will be afforded the invitation to sit down and share a drink.
The word Tereré originates from Guarani and is the cousin of the Argentine mate. If you think Buenos Aires gets hot in the summer, you haven’t been to Paraguay. While we’re basking in the current beauty which is comfortably going out at night in a t-shirt, those guys are dealing with temperatures that have already reached 90°F with 80% humidity. And it’ll last until somewhere around May. It’s no wonder they prefer to drink their mate with ice.
In Paraguay it is often prepared with cold mint or lemongrass infused water while in Brazil it’s more commonly drunk with pineapple or lime juice. In Buenos Aires, you will generally see tereré made with orange Tang. I’ve also seen variations with different flavors of Levite and Terma. I’m not religiously against Tang – it’s sweet, nostalgic and costs about 2 pesos a package – it’s also the quickest, simplest and cheapest way to drink tereré daily. I do, however, hate making it because I can feel the powder cake to my throat when I mix in the water.
But today we’ll be making it a little differently: tereré with pineapple and ginger juice. Get ready to feel decadent.
I normally prefer not to buy fresh pineapple. The window to buy a good ripe pineapple is pretty small and prices vary too much from one grocery store to the next. Pro-tip: don’t buy them from large chains like Coto or Carrefour, they tend to charge by the kilo what you’d get por unidad at a verduleria. That’s how I set up my pineapple hook, if my vegetable lady doesn’t sell her produce at its ripest she’ll give me her “day old” pineapple for just $20. Normally I’d still moan at the idea of spending viente pe on a piece of fruit, seeing that after cutting the rinds and core only half is actually eatable. Until I learned that was absolutely false. Before you toss that stuff into the garbage, make juice!
In order to make this juice you will need the following:
- 1 pineapple
- Optional – 1/3 cup sugar, a few cloves and cinnamon sticks
Cut the top, bottom, skin and core off of the pineapple. Save the rest and make a delicious smoothie later or use it to make something delicious for dinner. I’ll let the pinterest gods help you with that but will throw out HONEY AND PINEAPPLE CHICKEN TACOS into your brain.
Skin (or don’t) the ginger and roughly chop up about two to three tablespoons. Throw everything into a large pot and fill with water until about an inch from the rim. You can throw in a few cloves and cinnamon sticks if you feel like it. Heat on high heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Remove pineapple and ginger from pot and strain the juice throw a fine mesh to get rid of any bits that have fallen off the pineapple skin. Let cool completely. To speed up the cooling you can add ice (do this in the pot so you don’t break a precious glass pitcher). Taste test first and add honey and sugar as necessary.
This is a pretty light tasting juice, nothing like a processed pineapple juice from the store so if you’re taste buds are craving something sweet add sugar. You generally need A LOT of sugar to make it taste like a store-bought juice with a 2:1 water to sugar ratio. I got by with a few tablespoons of honey and 1/3 cup white sugar.
To make your tereré: fill a glass cup with two ice cubes and yerba mate so that the cup is 2/3 full, insert bombilla, shake it all up and let the yerba sit at an incline. You want to use a glass or metal cup because the gourd retains flavor and you don’t want future mate’s to have a sugary juice taste. I also prefer putting the ice directly into the cup but you can fill your pitcher with ice as well. To each his own.
This will make about a gallon of fruit juice, which if I’m drinking alone will last me a few days. But best to save it up, take it to the park with your friends and when people assume that you’ve just served them some powder water, you can wag your finger and say “Nonono che, this is homemade pineapple and ginger juice.”