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Using Piloncillo or Panela

Mexican

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30 replies to this topic

#1 Darienne

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:09 AM

To date I have chopped away at my blocks of Piloncillo or Panela, or shaved them with a sharp knife or even grated them. Such work.

Today in a recipe for Chikki (Indian Brittle), I found a tip for using Jaggery...the Indian equivalent.

Put the block into the microwave for 15 - 20 seconds and then press down and see if it crumbles. Use the microwave in increments of a few seconds until you can press down on the block and it will crumble. Be careful not to melt the sugar.

So I tried it with both a block of palm sugar and panela and it works!

My question is: would it harm the sugar in any way to be treated this way? I am NOT a fan of microwaves and don't use mine any more than necessary. Foolish, perhaps, but then....
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#2 Zeemanb

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:14 AM

Good topic, I'll be curious to read more about this....up until now I've just had to rely on my frustrated tears to soften it. :laugh:

#3 EatNopales

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:21 AM

Good tip... I've always just used old piloncillo as housing construction material :biggrin:

#4 Darienne

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:21 AM

That's all there is to know basically. I stuck a smallish block of panela in the microwave. Zapped it for 15 secs. No dice. Another 10. Another 10. Any by God, I pressed down and it crumbled. Just like that! When I think of all the work...

Should add that while doing it with the palm sugar chunks, the stuff crumbled and my finger ended up in a small of pool of yikes! melted and very hot and sticky palm sugar which I of course stuck right into my mouth for help. Fortunately, it was not THAT hot. :raz: Yeah, it tasted good.

Edited by Darienne, 31 October 2011 - 10:24 AM.

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#5 Zeemanb

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:24 AM

That is a very handy tip...I was at a dinner recently where someone had made a cake with piloncillo and it was delicious, deep flavor and not overly sweet. But the thought of processing a brick turned me off from trying it....will definitely be purchasing some soon.

#6 Kerry Beal

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:29 AM

I use the microwave when I need to soften palm sugar when I'm including it in Thai recipes.

#7 Darienne

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:43 AM

That is a very handy tip...I was at a dinner recently where someone had made a cake with piloncillo and it was delicious, deep flavor and not overly sweet. But the thought of processing a brick turned me off from trying it....will definitely be purchasing some soon.

If you like deep and delicious, try for Panela. :wub: :wub: Darker than piloncillo.
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#8 kalypso

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:45 AM

Yes, yes, yes...the microwave works for piloncillo, same concept as softening up old brown sugar that's hardened, or honey that's crystalized. Before I discovered the microwave method I used to take my biggest, baddest hammer, stick the piloncillo in a zip lock, put a towel over it and start hammering away. That worked pretty effectively and I got an upper body workout at the same time :wink: The microwave method is much easier and faster. Unless you over nuke it, it doesn't harm the piloncillo

#9 Zeemanb

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:51 AM


That is a very handy tip...I was at a dinner recently where someone had made a cake with piloncillo and it was delicious, deep flavor and not overly sweet. But the thought of processing a brick turned me off from trying it....will definitely be purchasing some soon.

If you like deep and delicious, try for Panela. :wub: :wub: Darker than piloncillo.


Thanks, when I read that I heard a little voice over my shoulder whisper "ice cream base!".

#10 Kerry Beal

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 11:00 AM

I bet it would work fine in the Sri Lankan jaggery pudding I made while I was up north.

#11 Darienne

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 02:49 PM

I bet it would work fine in the Sri Lankan jaggery pudding I made while I was up north.

Good idea. Did you use jaggery? Can you get it in your area?
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#12 Darienne

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 02:52 PM

Thanks, when I read that I heard a little voice over my shoulder whisper "ice cream base!".

Been there. Done that. Very nice. Can't think of ever using 'brown sugar' again.
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#13 ElsieD

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 04:44 PM

How timely. Yesterday I went to my local Latino store in search of Panela. I found it in varying forms -but mostly slabs and large conical (1 or 2 pound cylinders) . They also had bags of Panela in small conical shapes, perhaps a couple of tablespoons worth. They were very, very hard and since I couldn't think of a way to break them down, I did not buy any. Now that I know a microwave will take care of the problem, I'll trot back over there and get me some.

#14 Kerry Beal

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 04:45 PM


I bet it would work fine in the Sri Lankan jaggery pudding I made while I was up north.

Good idea. Did you use jaggery? Can you get it in your area?

I used palm sugar - I know I had a big cone of jaggery up there somewhere but couldn't find it.

#15 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 05:16 PM

Microwave works just fine, as does putting it a pan in the oven just after bread or whatnot has come out (oven off, of course) - for about 15-20 minutes, or placing the block in the sun for an hour. I've always just made sure to buy fresh, which doesn't have the rock-hard problem.....
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#16 Paul Bacino

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 05:35 AM

Crap.. should have read this a bit.

I just finished breaking down a cone, double Ziplock bagged and double toweled over that and hammmered, followed by a Mortar and pestal. It actually worked quite well. Pretty fine powder? Will it re-harden?

Cant wait to use it in a beef rib rub.. Smells nice!! :smile:

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#17 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 07:13 AM

If it's a fine powder, it won't re-harden or form lumps unless exposed to humidity. Keep it in a ziplock and you're good to go.
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#18 Darienne

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 07:25 AM

Note for Canadians in Ontario at least. Piloncillo is now being carried in FreshCo (was Price Chopper and several things before that). Keep in mind that there are both Mexican and separate Latin American sections.
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#19 Trev

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 04:47 PM

Note for Canadians in Ontario at least. Piloncillo is now being carried in FreshCo (was Price Chopper and several things before that). Keep in mind that there are both Mexican and separate Latin American sections.

Good tip. I don't use much so I just pick up some whenever I go to Perolas, or Sol de Espana in Clarkson.
I'll have to try nuking it next time. For now, I've got a Ziploc bag of the stuff with obvious hammer marks on it :laugh:

Edited by Trev, 10 November 2011 - 04:48 PM.

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#20 Jmahl

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 05:07 PM

Great tip. I will not forget this.
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#21 Darienne

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 03:49 PM

This is probably a foolish question, but here goes. Are there various qualities of piloncillo out there? I bought some a couple of weeks ago at a well-known Mexican carniceria in Colorado, usual shape, dark brown, in plastic bags with no name on them. This market sells home made tortilla chips and tortillas and pastries which are wonderful!

Used the piloncillo today. Making the syrup for Capirotada. Tasted the sugar...of course...and was stunned. Where was that wonderful taste? Sure, it was sweet, but the special tastes which had captured me forever on my first real taste of piloncillo were missing.

Back home, brown sugar always tastes like brown sugar and there's no home made brown sugar to be purchased that I know of. So what is happening here, please?
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#22 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 03:55 PM

Absolutely, there are different grades and types. The best will come from drought-season cane; those are the blocks with that wonderful aroma you're missing. Wet-season cane produces much more volume, but has much less concentrated flavour.

Gauge by colour - the darker, the better.
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#23 Darienne

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 04:02 PM

Absolutely, there are different grades and types. The best will come from drought-season cane; those are the blocks with that wonderful aroma you're missing. Wet-season cane produces much more volume, but has much less concentrated flavour.

Gauge by colour - the darker, the better.

But that's it! This stuff is very, very dark, and quite nothing.

I'll check in the local supermarket and see what they have. Two supermarkets, a City Market (Kroger) and a Village Market (Western Family). Neither one of them very pleasing really. Our FreshCo (Sobey's) at home has a wonderful brand. But then it's cold at home and probably snowing.
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#24 Panaderia Canadiense

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 07:26 AM

Strange. Now I'm wondering if they're not extracting or refining further than they should - that will also contribute to a loss of that bouquet. There's no way to sniff the piloncillo before you buy it, is there?
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#25 Darienne

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 07:49 AM

Strange. Now I'm wondering if they're not extracting or refining further than they should - that will also contribute to a loss of that bouquet. There's no way to sniff the piloncillo before you buy it, is there?

I've never seen unwrapped piloncillo for sale in the US or Canada. Not a big problem. I have still to check it out in the local groceries to see what they carry.

The Capirotada turned out beautifully anyway.
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#26 tim

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 08:03 AM

Hi,

If you like piloncillo/panela your are going to love gula jawa. This is pure palm sugar, dark brown, soft and pungent.

The best comparison is supermarket balsamic compared to balsamico tradizionale.

Tim

#27 ElsieD

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 01:45 PM

Hi,

If you like piloncillo/panela your are going to love gula jawa. This is pure palm sugar, dark brown, soft and pungent.

The best comparison is supermarket balsamic compared to balsamico tradizionale.

Tim


Where can one find this?

#28 Darienne

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 03:36 PM

Found interesting information on gula jawa. Probably not something you can find in East Central Ontario...

As for my piloncillo adventures. Finished until we return home to the far frozen north where I can buy incredibly good panela. I'll take home the three different kinds and see what I can find at home and report back.

This morning we did a taste test on three varieties of piloncillo. DH scored them from highest to blandest: City Market's Frieda, GJ Mexican Mercado, Moab Village Market no name. I found them all lacking, but also agreed that the Frieda brand was deepest in flavor.

Piloncillo comparison.JPG

Left to right: Grand Junction mercado (darkest); City Market Frieda brand; Village Market no name

(The Frieda brand has an interesting background. The founder of the distributing company, Frieda Rappaport Caplan is responsible for introducing to North America a number of exotic fruits, most notably the Chinese Gooseberry (Kiwi Fruit).)
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#29 tim

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:55 AM


Hi,

If you like piloncillo/panela your are going to love gula jawa. This is pure palm sugar, dark brown, soft and pungent.

The best comparison is supermarket balsamic compared to balsamico tradizionale.

Tim


Where can one find this?


I found it at a large asian market that carried thai and malaysian ingredients. It is also available on-line and well worth the effort.

Tim

#30 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 08:27 AM

One of my favorite things in the world is my bag of piloncillo from our own Steve Sando at Rancho Gordo. Granulated and remarkably flavorful, it's perfect for all sorts of applications (including cocktails).
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