On the way driving up to Colombia’s mountainous Antioquia province through the hills surrounding Medellin, Colombia, I stopped in a small, family run factory called El Trapiche, where a team of artisans work day & night to produce Panela.
Colombia is the second producer of Panela after India. Panela farms and factories have been part of Colombia’s community for generations and this still remains today.
Everyone I met had childhood stories, going to a factory at night and happily licking the trays of the sweltering Panela. Panela production is a huge part of the Colombian culture.
The process is fairly straightforward:
-First, the juice is extracted from sugar cane.
-The juice is then boiled over earthen ovens.
-Whatever remains after juice extraction is used as fuel, therefore creating zero waste and keeping the fuel costs down.
-During the boiling process the juice is continuously stirred and impurities are removed.
-After the right amount of boiling the juice turns into a thick brown paste, which is then spread on large plates to cool down.
-At the end of the process “jaggery” is moulded into desired shapes.
-Jaggery is then packed and ready to go.
The lights, the smoke, the tight spaces, the darkness and the neighbourhood spirit depicted in these photos illustrate the traditional making of this renowned sugar product found in many rural places around the country of Colombia.