The piloncillo in Nahuatl is known as chiancaca, which the Nahuatl dictionary translates as “marzipan of the earth.” It is made from sugar cane and a refining and purification process necessary to convert it into muscovado sugar; that is, brown or mortar sugar.
This product is also caramel and prepared from the undistilled juice of sugar cane.
In 1493, at the time of the conquest of America by the Spanish, during the culinary miscegenation, the cultivation of sugar cane was introduced. Along with this new crop came the mills, milling, and its different products. In that period it was the main source of sweetening for farmers and rural dwellers.
The traditional piloncillo manufacturing process can vary according to the area and customs. In general, the following steps are carried out: The sugar cane is collected and squeezed to obtain the juice (sugar mills). The remaining bagasse is allowed to dry and is used to stir the oven. The juice from the cane is heated in the oven to its boiling point. It is transferred to a stirrer that does not stop turning until the sweet is thick.
When everything is thick, it is emptied into cone-shaped wooden molds, as the piloncillo is commonly known. Once cold, it is removed from the mold and packed for distribution. The clarity of the piloncillo is related to the quality; this is, the more clarity and sweetness, the better product.
Currently, between 10 and 12 tons of sugarcane are needed to obtain one of brown sugar, depending on the humidity and concentration of sugars. It is important to remember that it is a natural sweetener without added chemicals.
According to data from the Agri-Food and Fisheries Information Service (SIAP), in 2017, 12.1 thousand hectares of brown sugar cane were established nationwide, 316.8 thousand tons were collected and generated a production value of 174.2 million pesos. Four-fifths of the production of sugar cane piloncillo was carried out in temporary areas.
In the last six years, the main producing state was San Luis Potosí, which contributed 60% of the national production. Of its 17 producing municipalities, Coxcatlán, San Antonio, Tancanhuitz, Tanlajás, Tampamolón Corona and Aquisimón stand out.
The piloncillo contains vitamin B1 (helps to carry out mental processes and is effective for the treatment of depression), B2 (keeps the immune system healthy and helps to restore tissues ), B6 (keeps the nervous system in good condition). It includes vitamin C, essential to protect the body from oxidation.
It can be used in infusions as an expectorant and is a great source of energy. Piloncillo is also known in Latin American countries, India, Laos, and Pakistan. In Mexico, we use it to sweeten desserts and drinks, as well as: fritters, punch, pumpkins, sweet and sour sauces and market piglets.
In addition to being used for human consumption, the piloncillo is a reward for racehorses, a little of this sweetness is perfect for them. In the end, it is 100% natural.
The Mazatlan Post