|Source plant(s)||Sugarcane (caña de azucar)|
|Part(s) of plant||Cane|
|Geographic origin||Latin America|
Panela (Spanish pronunciation: [paˈnela]) is unrefined whole cane sugar, typical of Central and Latin America, which is basically a solid piece of sucrose obtained from the boiling and evaporation of sugarcane juice. It is known by various other names in the region, including piloncillo in Mexico (the word "panela" is used for a cheese, Queso Panela) and raspadura. Jaggery is a similar product in other parts of the world.
Panela is marketed in many forms, ranging from solid blocks of differing weights, to liquid or granulated forms for use in the canning industry, confectionery, soft drinks, bakery, and in making wines and vinegars. In the cosmetics industry, panela has also been used in facial skin beauty treatments, with glycolic acid in juice being claimed as an ingredient which slows the aging of skin.
- Raspadura in Cuba, Ecuador and Panama
- Rapadou in Haiti
- Rapadura in Brazil and the Dominican Republic
- Tapa de dulce in Costa Rica
- Papelón, Panela or Miel de Panela in Venezuela
- Piloncillo ("little pylon", so named for the cone shape) in Mexico
The main producer of panela is Colombia (about 1.4 million tons/year), where panela production is one of the most important economic activities, with the highest index of panela consumption per capita worldwide. Panela is also produced in Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia (where it is called chankaka or empanizao). In Colombia, the panela industry is an important source of employment, with about 350,000 people working in nearly 20,000 trapichess (panela farms).
In 2003, Colombian sugarcane contributed 4.2% of the value of agricultural production (not counting coffee) and 1.9% of national agricultural activity of that country. That year, it was 9th in contributions to production value.
Similarly, it represents 10.7% of the area for permanent crops and 6.2% of the total area cultivated in Colombia, sixth place among the country's crops, behind only coffee, corn, rice, bananas, and cotton. This product is produced predominantly in the rural economy, the basic economy of 236 municipalities in 12 national departments.
An estimated 70,000 farm units cultivate sugarcane for mills, which generates more than 25 million annually in wages, employing around 350,000 people, or 12% of the economically active rural population, making it the second-largest for employer after agricultural coffee production.
Worldwide, the Colombians are the largest consumers of sugarcane in the world, with more than 34.2 kg per capita. To the extent it is a low-cost sweetener with important contributions of minerals and trace amounts of vitamins, high intake occurs mainly in strata. Panela consumption represents 2.18% of expenditure on food of the citizens and in some areas accounts for up to 9% of food expenditures in low-income sectors.
It was originally created as an easier way to transport sugar. In Venezuela, it is an essential ingredient for many typical recipes, and in some parts of the country, it is used in place of refined sugar as a more accessible, cheaper and healthier sweetener.
It is used to make chancaca. In Peru, chancaca is used in typical food such as champús, picarones, calabaza al horno, and mazamorra cochina. In Costa Rica, it is used in preparations such as tapa de dulce and agua de sapo.
The main use of the panela in Colombia is for aguapanela, one of the most widely consumed beverages in Colombia. It is also used in the preparation of guarapo and various desserts. Since it is a very solid block, most Colombian homes have a hard river stone (la piedra de la panela) to break the panela into smaller, more manageable pieces. Panela can be purchased in markets, local grocers, and online stores. In parts of coastal Colombia is also used for chancacas.
Known as piloncillo in México, it is most often seen in the shape of small, truncated cones. Many Mexican desserts are made with piloncillo, such as atole, capirotada, champurrado and flan. It is also blended with different spices, such as anise, cayenne or chocolate.
National Panela Pageant
The National Panela Pageant takes place in the town of Villeta, Cundinamarca. This town is famous for its production of sugarcane, but the festivities occur in almost all national departments of Colombia in January of each year. Villeta is located 91 km from Bogota and has 37,300 inhabitants. The festival has been celebrated since 1977 as a tribute to the hard work and craftsmanship with which the peasants of the region make panela. It creates a sense of regional and national integration, sharing of a common bond. Each year, a National Queen, is crowned, on the basis of beauty, popularity, and knowledge about the production and marketing of panela.
- Grodinsky, Peggy (6 September 2006). "Pump up the flavor with piloncillo". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
- Colombia - Actividades del sector primario - Sector agrícola vegetal
- Dentro del Táchira: El Dulce Proceso de la Panela
- - See the process