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Tejuino: Uncovering the Secret of its Unique Fermentation Process

By ari kytsya May 25, 2024

A beloved cold fermentation drink, tejuino hails from Mexico’s rich and dynamic Oaxaca, Nayarit, Jalisco, and Colima culinary traditions. Mexicans have been drinking this traditional brew deeply rooted in their culture for several generations. The sourness and slightly sweet taste that make it refreshing, among many others, is what locals and food enthusiasts adore in their favorite tejuino. However, tejuino distinguishes itself by the peculiar process of its fermentation, which has endowed it with unique attributes and health benefits.

The Ingredients of Tejuino

The simplicity but strong effect of the ingredients in tejuino constitute its magic. The base for tejuino consists of nixtamalized corn dough, or masa, as it is more commonly known. This is mixed with piloncillo—an unrefined cane sugar that adds a caramel-like sweetness. Furthermore, lime juice and a little salt are added to improve flavoring and facilitate fermentation. Other spices, such as cinnamon, may also be included for a more complex drink.

  • Nixtamalized Corn Dough (Masa): Masa is central to making tejuino where dried corn is soaked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, before grinding it into dough. This ancient process not only enhances the nutritional profile of the corn but also contributes to the unique texture and flavor of tejuino.
  • Piloncillo: Piloncillo is a traditional Mexican sweetener that offers deep flavors similar to molasses while also acting as a fermentable sugar that fuels the fermentation process.
  • Lime Juice: Lime juice balances the piloncillo’s sweetness with tartness and enriches the overall flavor profile.
  • Salt: The presence of some amount of salt intensifies taste and thus helps stabilize fermentation.

The Fermentation Process

Tejuino differs from most other fermented beverages in that it undergoes a unique cold fermentation. Here’s how this traditional drink is made, step by step:

Preparing the Masa Mixture:

The nixtamalized corn dough is mixed with water to create a thick, freely-flowing paste. This mixture is then blended with piloncillo dissolved in water to form a sweet syrup.

Initial Fermentation:

The mixture stands at room temperature for 24-48 hours to ferment. During this period, sugar breaks down into alcohol and lactic acid due to natural yeast found in corn and around it. This primary fermentation imparts tejuino its characteristic tanginess.

Cold Fermentation:

At this stage of fermentation, the mixture is usually placed in a cold environment, such as a fridge, to slow down the process. The flavors continue melding together during several days of cold fermentation, which does not cause excessive alcohol buildup.

Final Touches:

Once the tejuino has fermented entirely, solids are removed from the drink by straining it carefully. Lime juice and salt are needed to balance the flavors. This beverage is then served chilled, often with an extra lime juice drop or a sprinkle of chili powder for hotness.

Health Benefits of Tejuino

Tejuino isn’t just a delicious treat; it also offers several health benefits:

Probiotics: Some beneficial bacteria or probiotics introduced through fermentation may support digestion processes and gut health.

Nutrient-Rich: Nixtamalized corn dough retains calcium, magnesium, and niacin, among other vital minerals necessary for human growth, because it is fermented.

Hydration: Since tejuino, usually taken cold, contains electrolytes like sodium and potassium from lime juice and salt, respectively, it can serve as an excellent hydrating beverage, especially in hot climates.

Variations of Tejuino

So many variants and adaptations of tejuino have been created over the years:

Regional Variations: In some areas, a scoop of lime sorbet sits on top of tejuino, or one gets a small slice of lime next to it. Its original recipe could sometimes have a touch of cinnamon or other spices to make the taste unique.

Modern Twists: New-age mixologists and culinary inventors are now using different fruits, herbs, and even alcohol when making their tejuino cocktails. These recent versions still maintain the traditional taste while introducing new flavor combinations.

Where Tejuino Can Be Found

For those interested in trying out this revitalizing drink, you can find tejuino in various places around:

Street Vendors: In many Mexican cities, including Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit, and Oaxaca, street vendors sell fresh-made tejuino. Look for people vending big clay pots or dispensers packed with cold and sour mixtures.

Markets and Festivals: Stands offering this cultural favorite, Tejuino, are often seen at farmers’ markets and authentic Mexican fairs.

International Availability: The popularity of Mexican cuisine has led to the inclusion of Tejuino on menus in various countries where specialized restaurants sell such dishes. Some online suppliers even provide ready-made tejuinos or do-it-yourself packs for use at home.

Concluding Remarks

Tejuino is more than just an ordinary beverage. It reflects Mexico’s rich cultural heritage and excellent culinary innovations. From simple constituents to elaborate fermentation steps involved in its preparation, the fermented blend presents diverse flavors and health benefits, making it unique among other drinks. For any food lover or anybody who wants to try something new, traveling through tequjo’s world is worth it. Take a chance. Whether you opt for your local vendor’s product or choose to prepare some by yourself at home, you will always be glad you tried the fantastic flavor of tejuino.

By ari kytsya

Ari Kytsya, a content writer at Mopsul Company, crafts engaging and informative content. Discover their expertise in delivering captivating articles.

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