Panela comes from sugarcane. It is an unrefined sugar that goes through a fraction of the processing when compared with common white, brown and turbinado sugars.
Panela is common in Latin America and becoming popular across the globe as consumers want natural ingredients and less processed, whole foods.
Panela is produced on sugarcane farms in small batches via a simple process of concentrating and pulverizing freshly extracted sugarcane sap.
The raw sugarcane sap is a viscous liquid that retains vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are intrinsic to the cane grass, a vigorous plant. It is a natural balance of sucrose, glucose and fructose. It has a rich earthy caramel flavor.
To make panela, the sugarcane is harvested by hand and transported to the mill. The cane is then washed, crushed to extract the sap, kettle cooked, air dried, pulverized, sieved and packaged.
By contrast, common sugar is processed in massive factories that use a centrifuge or turbine. Those machines spin-dry raw sugarcane sap at rapid speeds, which separates sucrose crystals apart from the naturally occurring fructose and glucose.
That refined sucrose is then further processed with stabilizers and bleach to give it the color and texture of common white sugar.
That glucose and fructose is then further processed with additives to create molasses, which can then be added back to the refined sucrose to create brown sugar.
Panela is not processed in a centrifuge or turbine, it has no additives, it is just the natural sap, concentrated and pulverized.
Please watch and enjoy this video of our panela being made on our farm in Medellín, Colombia.