My Life in Peru

An Expat Mom Shares Her Experiences with Peruvian Life, Travel and Food

Chancaca – What the Heck Is It?

Posted on | October 20, 2010 | 4 Comments

PanelaWhen I told y’all about turron the other day, I mentioned that one of the ingredients is chancaca syrup.  It’s not really an ingredient that you hear of often in the US, where white sugar and corn syrup are the most commonly used sweeteners.  So, just what in the heck IS chancaca?

Chancaca (also known as panela, raspadura or piloncillo depending on where you come from) is sugar. It’s the pure, unbleached, unrefined sugar that you get from the juice of the sugar cane. It’s made by first milling raw sugar cane to extract all the juice. The juice is then cleaned and filtered to remove any impurities. The raw sugarcane juice is then simmered at low temperatures to evaporate out the water content, leaving all the vitamins and minerals intact. The raw sugar left behind is molded into blocks, like shown in the picture.

What’s that you say? Vitamins and minerals in sugar?? Yes, it’s true!

We’ve all heard a million times how bad for us sugar is, and that’s because we’re all so used to thinking white sugar  when we hear sugar.  But chancana – raw, unprocessed sugar – is good for you! You see, white sugar is sent through a process where the sugar crystals are separated from the molasses – all the good stuff stays in the molasses.  Pure chancaca has potassium, magnesium, iron – even a trace of fluoride to help combat tooth decay.

But what’s really good about it – of course – is the flavor. It has a delicious caramelized flavor compared to plain white sugar. And it makes a delicious syrup.

Chancaca Syrup

  • 1 block of Chancaca
  • rind from one orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 3 cups of water
  1. Put all of the ingredients in a sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.
  3. Let the mixture simmer for as long as it takes to reduce to about half. It should be caramel colored and about the same consistency as maple syrup.
  4. Run it through a sieve to remove the peel and cloves.

Serve this on top of pancakes, Peruvian picarones or use it in turron.

Something I haven’t tried, but think would be really tasty is to drizzle it over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

Buy blocks of chancaca at your local Latin market, or you can find it at –Chancaca

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4 Responses to “Chancaca – What the Heck Is It?”

  1. Tweets that mention Chancaca and Chancaca syrup | My Life in Peru --
    October 21st, 2010 @ 00:46

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by News in Peru, Fnnkybutt. Fnnkybutt said: If you want to make turron, you've got to have chancaca!… […]

  2. Arroz Zambito | My Life in Peru
    November 12th, 2010 @ 14:35

    […] already know all about chancaca, right? Because you’ve been reading along with me everyday, right? (crickets […]

  3. Sam
    March 11th, 2013 @ 13:19

    Just wondering how much is one block of chancaca. Thanks

  4. Kelly
    March 11th, 2013 @ 14:19

    In Lima, around 5-6 soles for about half kilo.

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    I got tired of life happening while I made other plans, so I quit my job and came to Peru. I live here with my Peruvian husband, two sons, three dogs and various other family members, depending on the weather.

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