Who Couldn't Use A Great Alternative To Honey???
I first went vegan many years ago! At that time there weren’t all these cool products on the market, like plant based meats, cheeses, and all the new trendy sweeteners. Back then you had vegetables, and you just tried to get creative with those. There was a soy cheese that was really bad. Tofurkey was definitely not that great back then. And the other plant meats I did find, usually contained eggs or dairy.
I should also point out that when I first went vegan, I was part of Americorps, living in upstate New York. The area I was in did not get many of the newer vegan foods in the stores. It was more of a hunting and farming area.
One thing that many people don’t realize, is that honey is not vegan. While I was never a huge fan of honey anyway, there were occasions that I would have used it. So I had to start using an alternative. There was definitely maple syrup where I lived. There was even a maple syrup farm not too far away. But I made the mistake of taking a tour of the farm one time. The smell of the process to transform the tree sap into what’s purchased in stores, turned me off to it for years. While I think agave nectar was available in some places, it definitely wasn’t where I lived. I don’t think I ever saw agave nectar till a few years later.
Piloncillo or panela or chancaca, all different names for the same thing, was something I could fairly easily get my hands on. If you’re unfamiliar with it, piloncillo is unrefined whole cane sugar. It comes in light or dark varieties. I like to use both for different things. Both forms are sold as solid shapes. Usually in a cone or puck shape. The lighter variety has a slight smokiness, caramel, slightly acidic flavor. The darker variety is all of that, but bolder with more of a molasses flavor. Both can be ground down and used as a sugar substitute. The flavor will absolutely change your recipes.
My favorite way to use them, is to make them into a syrup. The lighter one especially, has a flavor profile reminiscent of honey. I would say it’s more similar to honey than the honey alternatives that get sold in stores. And the beautiful thing about making your own syrup, is that you can add different spices. I regularly have different syrups, that were made with different spices, in my pantry.
The second best part of piloncillo syrup, is that it’s extremely easy to make! I’ll be giving you my basic recipe, but like I said, you can adjust the spices to whatever you like. I plan on posting some recipes soon that use this syrup, so it’s good for you to know how to make it beforehand.
The process of making the syrup is easy. The amount of the ingredients is completely up to you. The basic amounts are 1 cup of water for every 200g of solid piloncillo, plus your spices. Once you combine the ingredients, you just simmer it down to the thickness you want. I tend to go for a thickness somewhere between maple syrup and honey. Usually closer to the maple syrup thickness. Mainly because this allows me to thicken later for different recipes. Since it’ll be hot, the easiest way to know if it’s the right consistency is to drip a bit on a cold plate. Then just check the cooled down drops to see if it’s the thickness you want.
Then you just store it in an airtight bottle or jar. I have kept bottles for weeks, without it going bad. It is sugar, so it can form crystals. But I see nothing bad about that.
I also want to touch on some kitchen magic. This syrup is the perfect vessel to infuse with magic and intention. You can infuse your intentions into each ingredient before combining them. Use different spices and herbs to achieve different things. Try using spices for prosperity. You can use moon water when making this. While mixing make sure to stir clockwise for positivity. Put all your love into the syrup. Then take in all that magic every time you use it.
When it’s time to enjoy your magically infused syrup, there are endless possibilities. Try it in your coffee or tea. Pour it on your pancakes. Use it in cocktails. Pour some over ice cream. Leave some on your altar as an offering to the ancestors. You’re only limited by your imagination.
Now let’s get to the recipe!
- 400g Piloncillo (light or dark)
- 2 c Water
- 2 Large Cinnamon Sticks
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
- Simmer till it reaches your desired thickness. Stirring often to avoid sticking.
- Let cool, remove cinnamon sticks, and transfer to an airtight container. Store in a cool place.
- Try changing the spices. Cardamom, cloves, anise, lavender, and so much more can be used.
- Make sure to check thickness throughout the process. And remember it will thicken when cooled.
- Put some in decorative bottles and gift them to friends and family.