Piloncillo is the natural sweetener that dates from the time of the Conquest, its original name is the word from Nahuatl origin “panela”. Its origins go back to the journey of the conquerors who brought mills to our country to make this product.
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Main ingredient of Mexican desserts
The properties of this natural sweetener are many. It’s rich in vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C, essential for mental processes and the immune system. It also contains minerals such as copper, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and iron. It is common to use it in infusions as a natural expectorant.
In our country there are regions that are dedicated to the production of this sweetener with multiple uses nationwide. In Mexico it is used in desserts and drinks, as well as in typical dishes.
The most common applications are found in atole, punch, champurrado, tascalate and pinole. In Michoacán, it is linked to the bakery, and it is common to find ‘semitas’ made with piloncillo and anise.
Canned fruit and its sweets are also sweetened with brown sugar. For example, sweet pumpkin or sweet potato. In Tlaxcala corn gorditas are made with brown sugar, cinnamon and cheese. In Puebla it is a fundamental ingredient to prepare the milk sweets and the cajeta.
How is the piloncillo obtained?
To have a ton of piloncillo, at least 10 of sugar cane are required. The piloncillo is obtained by crushing and boiling the sugar cane.
Once the juice is extracted from the sugarcane, the bagasse is discarded and it is passed through some sieves to eliminate impurities. Then it is boiled so that the water evaporates and it is beaten until it reaches the correct thickness: molasses.
To mold and pack it, take the molasses and place it in molds that will be left to dry until the piloncillo is ready.
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