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Cooking with Raspadura : Panela : Piloncillo edit

1_8_1 Thousands of families of farmers in Latin America and the Caribbean work in the sugar cane fields. They follow the old school's procedures of manual work, confronting modernization and reacting in many ways to the cyber era. This resistant interaction shortens the boundaries to expand their markets, and to get motivating economical benefit from their work.

Only a small segment of the production is developed industrially, and the rest continues to be manufactured in establishments of inferior capacity, in an artisan way. Most of the time the panela production remains in the country of origin, in order to fulfill the domestic market, which doesn't allow to satisfy an increasing global demand easily.

But, what is the panela?, where does it come from?, and what can we prepare with it?

Good question! ...I knew that your fancy would be triggered by my almost inadequate suspicion of your panela ignorance. Right? Do not take it personally, because you are not the only one. I know that it is a sad situation to be in, but I promise you will get over it. Well,...if you stick with us at least until you finish reading this post smile Tricky huh?

azucar azucare sugar cane panama latino latin america baking cooking recipe recipes delicious chef melissa de leon douglass cookingdiva diva panamagourmet gourmet
1_5_1 Panela is raw sugar without refining, with a high molasses content. It is commonly consumed in Latin America, in the Philippines and in South Asia.  This "without refining sugar" is called so because it is darker than the "refined" sugar and it contains all the so called "impurities" that make it inedible and dangerous to our health. Well, I've got to tell you that the last common popular belief is so wrong that it makes me feel dizzy every time I think, read or hear about IT!

The truth is that all the supposed impurities are just essential minerals that promote good health and help prevent many diseases. These minerals are: calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron, as well as small amounts of selenium. Refined sugar has "zero" nutritional value, and to make it worse, it is the trigger that induces obesity, Type II Diabetes, and excessive cholesterol in the liver. Yikes!

1_7_1 Panela has many denominations. It is known as "Gur" in India and Pakistan.  Raspadura in Brazil, Ecuador and Panama.  Chancaca in Peru, Papelon in Mexico, Guatemala and other Central American countries.

In order to produce "panela," the sugar cane is cooked to high temperatures until forming dense molasses. Then the mixture is poured into molds to let dry until it solidifies. It is an important ingredient in the traditional gastronomy of Panama, Colombia and Venezuela. It becomes "melao, " and the fragrant "miel de caña" used to make cocadas! It is the base of many traditional desserts, candies and drinks.

Stay tuned for some delicious concoctions, candies and desserts made with this versatile ingredient.

See you soon,

Melissa

Visit Tasty Recipes - Chef Melissa's recipe and post index.
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  • by Chef Melissa
  • March 21, 2006
  • 7:10 pm

Comments

Picture of kjerringa mot strommen kjerringa mot strommen said on...
03.21.06 at 10:08 PM |

Melissa - miel panamena - Thank you for continuing to educate us on authentic, now indigenous food products and processes.  While the sugar cane industry also has a history of exploitation, it is nice to know of traditional farmers, food processers and cooks who continue the traditions.  I once read that the folk singer, Victor Jarra, expressed sadness that food in the United States was so plastic - bought with plastic, wrapped in plastic, and tasting of plastic - with much of its nutritional value - both biological and emotional - processed out.  Good to know that in spite of the globalization of the market place and the Walmartization of local markets, some people still remember how to do things the old ways.
——-

Picture of Marcela Marcela said on...
03.22.06 at 03:55 AM |

Hola Melissa, interesantísimo tu artículo!
En el noroeste argentino también se le llama chancaca. Pero no es fácil de encontrar, al menos no para mí. smile
Un beso y hasta prontito,
Marcela

Picture of Lucia .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
03.22.06 at 09:45 AM |

Olá Melissa!

Espero que entenda meu português…

Aqui no Brasil, sobretudo na região Nordeste, ainda se fabrica muita rapadura (ou raspadura), sendo um alimento tão popular que até entra na refeição dada nas escolas às crianças! Encontramos à venda nos mais modernos supermercados também!
E eu adoro rapadura!
Lúcia

Picture of sailaja sailaja said on...
03.22.06 at 01:27 PM |

Its commonly known as ‘Jaggery’ in India and is a very important ingredient in traditional Indian cooking and we use it to even flavor tea..smile.A healthier option to sugar.
Nice post on Panela,Melissa.

Picture of Michelle Michelle said on...
03.22.06 at 02:05 PM |

Hi Melissa!  This sounds wonderful!  I’ve been looking for options to reduce/eliminate refined sugar from my diet and it’s actual difficult to find here!  I especially love the thought of supporting a small artisian market, so I’m so glad that you are making people aware.  Your writing is so eloquent too - I love reading your posts.

Picture of Eric .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
03.22.06 at 07:11 PM |

Hola Melissa,  espero q estes bien y te felicito por tu site, pa lo panamenios q estamos lejos es como una bendicion, de hecho estaba buscando culantro en google y me llamo la atencion q en la descripcion de la pagina salia “sancocho de gallina”,  pense esto tiene q ser de alguien de Panama y no me equivoque, felicidades por tu pagina, q siguas cosechando exitos y solo por si acaso no tienes la receta para los platanos en tentacion<
saludos

Picture of Sher Sher said on...
03.22.06 at 08:23 PM |

Ahhh! Thank you Melissa. I enjoyed reading that so much.  And the pictures of panela being made were great!!!  I’m looking forward to the yummy foods made from it.  smilesmile

Picture of Lera Lera said on...
03.23.06 at 12:48 AM |

Hi Melissa,

This looks like The indian Jaggery,a by product of sugarcane juice.

Happy blogging!

Picture of Ivonne Ivonne said on...
03.24.06 at 08:11 PM |

Ciao Melissa!

Such an interesting post ... thank you for this information!

Picture of Don Ray Don Ray said on...
03.25.06 at 12:04 PM |

Hmmm, I learn something new everyday.

So are you saying that panela will not induce obesity, Type II Diabetes, and excessive cholesterol in the liver?

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
03.25.06 at 02:23 PM |

Hi Don! Although I prefer the raw sugar cane juice, jugo de caña, “panela” is great for cooking and for its health benefits too.

I am preparing a second post on panela to share more facts about it, and also with some ideas for cooking with it.

The following links will give you an idea of the many properties and uses around the world.
1-  http://www.sugarindia.com/panela.htm
2- http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=120

One thing I remember from Chiriqui is that sugar cane juice, raspadura and guarapo are available—-Have you tried them?

Have a great weekend!
Hugs,
M

Picture of fada*do*lar fada*do*lar said on...
03.25.06 at 04:49 PM |

Hello Melissa,

Great post!
Surely is MUCH better to use NOT refined sugars – in everything.
I never saw panela in Portugal but now I’ll look around for “gur” in asiatic supermarkets. And I’ll be looking forward to use it in some tasty recipes from Cooking Diva :-D
By the way, “panela” in portuguese means “saucepan”, hehehehe.

Picture of Kelly Cline Kelly Cline said on...
03.26.06 at 03:37 PM |

Absolutely lucious photos.  I had no idea how this was made.  I regularly have this in my kitchen, along with an assortment of other non-refined sugar products.  To me the flavor of these non-refined sugars gives food a richness you could NEVER get with plain old white sugar.

I love the production shots… beautiful work!

Picture of LA CHIRICANA .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
03.26.06 at 05:52 PM |

GRACIAS MELISSA POR LA INTERESANTE E INFORMATIVA INFORMACION ACERCA DE LA RASPADURA.  DE AHORA EN ADELANTE VERE LA RASPADURA DE DIFERENTE MANERA Y LA USARE MAS.
RECUERDO DE BIEN JOVEN QUE UN TIO MIO EN CHIRIQUI TENIA UN TRAPICHE Y NOS GUSTABA COMER ALGO QUE PARECIA CANDY Y OTRAS COSAS QUE NO ME ACUERDO DE LOS NOMBRES.  EL TRAPICHE ERA MOVIDO CON BUEYES Y LOS MOLDES PARA LA RASPADURA HECHOS EN MADERA.
EN CHIRIQUI PARA LA SEMANA SANTA CASI TODOS LOS POSTRES SON HECHOS CON RASPADURA.
A MI ME GUSTA PONER UNA RASPADURA EN UNA JARRA CON AGUA Y DEJAR QUE SE DILUYA LENTAMENTE DESPUES LE PONGO JUGO DE LIMON LO TOMO BIEN FRIO. DELICIOSO.

ALGUIEN TIENE FOTOS DE TRAPICHES EN PANAMA?

Picture of Georgia Georgia said on...
03.27.06 at 03:56 PM |

My mother just confirms that as a child growing up in southern Trinidad (as in Trinidad & Tobago), she had some Venezuelan neighbours who used to make panela, and that they called it “papelon”. Not sure how widespread it was/is in other parts of the country.

Picture of Karen Karen said on...
03.29.06 at 05:51 AM |

Hola! Fantastic feature, beautiful writing and pictures as always. I’m glad you posted about this - your panela, my pinocha (panocha), it’s also called piloncillo in some areas. Very timely too. It’s now harvest season for sugarcane. Lovely to see those moulds! I am not sure if we also have those in the Philippines. I’ve always thought they use empty coconut shells, tee hee! Let me investigate.

One way to make postre out of panela - melt in a thick pot then drop sliced camote. Boil for a few minutes. Cool then eat with some buffalo milk or cream. Oooh la la!

Picture of Tanya .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
06.03.06 at 09:16 PM |

I just read your information on panela.  Thank you.  I bought some in a store because it sounded vaguely familiar.  I have read about it.  Now, how do I use it in my tea or coffee?  It is in a solid block.  (5 mins. later)  Ok I shaved some off with a knife and put it in my Constant Comment tea.  Yuck.  I put some half and half in also.  A little better.  I’ll drink it because it is supposed to be good for me.  I think it will taste better on baked yam/sweet potato.

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
06.03.06 at 09:23 PM |

Hola Tanya! it takes a little time to get used to the taste, but if you do it in small portions is better. Shaved is fine, you can also grind it in the food processor smile

Picture of ISABEL RONDON .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
07.29.06 at 11:54 AM |

HOLA MELISA: SOY VENEZOLANA Y TENGO 17 AÑOS EN LOS ESTADOS UNIDOS Y CONOZCO MUY BIEN EL PAPELON COMO LO LLAMAMOS NOSOTROS LOS VENEZOLANOS, CRECI COMIENDO, MI MAMA USANDOLO EN SUS PLATOS COMO POR EJEMPLO: LAS CARAOTAS NEGRAS (BLACK BEANS), EL DULDE DE LECHOZA (PAPAYA DESERT), EN EL CAFE, CUANDO COCINABA EL GUISO PARA LAS HALLACAS EN DICIEMBRE (PARECIDO A LOS TAMALES), JUGO DE PANELA, EN FIN MUCHISIMOS USOS TIENE EL PAPELON EN VENEZUELA Y LO RECOMIENDO MUCHISIMO ADEMAS COMER UN PEDACITO O CHUPARLO POR UN RATICO ES SUUUUPEEER RICO!!! BUENISIMO TU SITE, CONGRATULATIONS. ISABEL RONDON (REALTOR) IN WESTON-FLORIDA (954) 275-1225…

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
07.29.06 at 01:23 PM |

Gracias Isabel por visitarnos y por la ideas para usar la raspadura! Un abrazo,
M

Picture of Adriana .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
11.13.06 at 05:23 PM |

Hola Melisa,

Soy Venezolana al igual que Isabel, tengo ya 16 años viviendo aqui en los Estados Unidos y cuando me vine sufria, porque no conseguia “Papelon” como lo llamamos nosotros, asi que cuando alguien venia de Venezuela me traia una panela de papelon y eso me duraba un monton, lo usaba y gurdaba como si era algo sagrado.

Ahora afortunadamente se consegui en cualquier supermercado, aunque si te soy sincera, no sabe igual a la de mi pais, pero bueno, peor es nada…

Aparte de usarlo en las comidas como dice Isabel es muy bueno para dorar las carnes “Asado Negro” (lomo) y le da un toque dulce riquisimo, yo tambien preparo lo que llamamos Papelon con limon, es una bebida super refrescante y riquisima y ademas sencilla de hacer.

Solo tienes que derretir un poco de Papelon (panela) en una ollita con agua para que se disuelva bien y hasta hacer un melado, lo hechas en una jarra, le agregas bastante limon, lo revuelves bien y le agregas hielo, ya veras que rico y refrescante es para esos dias de calor.

Tambien te recomiendo que busques en el internet recetas Venezolanas y busques “Asado Negro” y lo prepares para que veas que rico es, por lo menos a mi me fascina!

Picture of melissa melissa said on...
11.14.06 at 08:05 AM |

Hola Adriana! gracias por las ideas para utilizar el papelon! Definitivamente que voy a preparar el asado negro—-wow, suena delicioso. Un abrazo!
M

Picture of Adriana Castro .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
11.06.10 at 01:57 AM |

Hola

Vivo en Colombia, y quiero hacer las galletas de gengibre tan tradicionales en US en epoca de navidad.  Mi hermana que vive en US me mando la masa y me mando un frasco de molasses.  Yo me pregunto ¿como es posibel que en el segundo pais productor de panela no haya molasses?  Estuve en el supermercado y encontre miel de caña, melao de caña es lo mismo?  Pero mi pregunta puntual es si puedo hacer molasses derritiendo la panela?  Al ponerle agua y derretir la panela no estaria haciendo el proceso inverso y obtendria molasses?

Picture of Sandra Wu Sandra Wu said on...
04.13.11 at 07:54 PM |

Hi Melissa!  This sounds wonderful!  I’ve been looking for options to reduce/eliminate refined sugar from my diet and it’s actual difficult to find here!  I especially love the thought of supporting a small artisian market, so I’m so glad that you are making people aware.  Your writing is so eloquent too - I love reading your posts.

  - You took the words right out of my mouth, couldnt have said it better.

Sandra Wu
Consolida Sugar Corporation
http://www.icumsa-sugar-sellers.com

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