Colonche (1) is another Mesoamerican fermented drink similar in design to tepache and pulque. It is produced from the tuna fruits of several species of the nopal cactus (most notably O.strepthacantha) and is fermented using wild yeasts. Its shelf life, like that of tepache is somewhat longer than that of pulque and it can be expected to last for as long as 14-15 days. Colonche is found mainly in the regions of Jalisco, Zacatecas, San Luis de Potosí and Aguascalientes.

  1. or calonche, nochol, nochoctli
Tuna cardona (1)
  1. Photo by XHUANX – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,


  • Red tuna fruits (spines removed)


  • Crush the fruits and place them in a pot (it has been said that a clay pot should be used)
  • Cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for between 30 minutes and 2 hours.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool
  • Sweeten to taste (although if the fruit is sweet enough it won’t require added sugar)
  • Place liquid into a container and cover with cheesecloth to allow natural yeasts and bacteria in the air to come in contact with the liquid.
  • Allow to ferment for 3 – 4 days. Sometimes a fig leaf or cinnamon stick is added to the liquid for the fermentation stage. Many recipes also call for 125ml of alcohol (usually vodka) to be added per 2 litres of the tuna juice.
  • Sometimes old colonche or tibicos (1) may be added as a starter. Tibicos are gelatinous masses of yeasts and bacteria, grown in water with brown sugar. They are also used in the preparation of tepache. This drink will also exhibit some of the viscous consistency attributed to pulque. It is also rich in probiotics and has some of the medicinal qualities of pulque.
  1. Also known as tibi, water kefir grains, sugar kefir grains, Japanese water crystals and California bees. Tibi grains consist of a unique and very stable symbiotic association of Lactobacillus brevis, Streptococcus lactis and Saccharomyces cerevisiae embedded in a dextran matrix. Tibicos are a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts held in a polysaccharide biofilm matrix created by the bacteria. As with kefir grains, the microbes present in tibicos act in symbiosis to maintain a stable culture. Tibicos can do this in many different sugary liquids, feeding off the sugar to produce lactic acid, alcohol (ethanol), and carbon dioxide gas, which carbonates the drink. Tibicos forms on the pads of the Opuntia cactus as hard granules that can be reconstituted in a sugar-water solution as propagating tibicos (Moinas etal)

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