There are six key steps during the panela production. They are as it follows:
1. Sugar cane maturity and cutting
When the cane is mature (between 10 and 20 months after having been planted) and contains the ideal quantity of sugars (sucrose) required for the production of panela. This is the moment when farmers proceed to manually cut the sugar cane and transport it to the transformation site (trapiche).
2. Juice extraction
This process begins right after the sugar cane has being transported to el trapiche. Sugar cane is grinded with a special machine that consists of a series of rollers that extracts the sugar cane juice from the sugar cane.
3. Pre-cleaning and clarification of the juices
In this process, a physical separation of the impurities is carried out, based on the difference in density and particle size between the impurities and the juice.
4. Evaporation, concentration and punctuation of the juices
The equipment used in this stage is a traditional copper or stainless steel burner, which consists of a combustion chamber, smoke duct, chimney and evaporation zone to direct the hot sugar cane honey to the final stages.
5. Churn and cooling
The churn happens with an intensive shaking action of the sugar cane honey, which is carried out simultaneously with the cooling in a period of time between 10 and 15 minutes after the heating point. During this time, the temperature continues dropping and, with permanent manual agitation, the texture begins to break.
6. Molding, packaging and storage
The honey is transferred to wooden molds where they are solidified and the final product is obtained. Once solidified, the product is packaged for storage and later sale. This is how solid panela is made.