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The Molienda


[View of a traditiona trapiche]

View of a traditiona trapiche


[Sugar canes are put inside the trapiche in this way.]

Sugar canes are put inside the trapiche in this way.


[The crushed cane as it comes out at the other side of the trapiche.]

The crushed cane as it comes out at the other side of the trapiche.


[The juice, or guarapo, is collected at tank.]

The juice, or guarapo, is collected at tank.


[After the milling is over, the guarapo is then tranfered to the cooking pot.]

After the milling is over, the guarapo is then tranfered to the cooking pot.


[The pot lies on top of an oven that is heated by burning wood.]

The pot lies on top of an oven that is heated by burning wood.


[This tool is called cazo. It is used for steering the guarapo an extracting the cachaza that forms on top of it while being cooked.]

This tool is called cazo. It is used for steering the guarapo an extracting the cachaza that forms on top of it while being cooked.


[This view how the cachaza is skimmed]

This view how the cachaza is skimmed


[The first cachaza is thrown away, because it doesn't have a good taste.]

The first cachaza is thrown away, because it doesn't have a good taste.


[The guarapo, as it turns into honey, needs to be steered regularly.]

The guarapo, as it turns into honey, needs to be steered regularly.


[Ripe plantains are lowered inside the honey in order to cook them.]

Ripe plantains are lowered inside the honey in order to cook them.


[At this point, the cachaza has a sweet taste.]

At this point, the cachaza has a sweet taste.


[After a while, it is time to get the plantains and distribute them between the participants.]

After a while, it is time to get the plantains and distribute them between the participants.


[Once the honey is ready, it is taken out of the pot.]

Once the honey is ready, it is taken out of the pot.


[The honey runs into the containers where it will be cooled and stored.]

The honey runs into the containers where it will be cooled and stored.


[The last honey in the pot is mixed with water in order to create the campeche. This marks the end of]

The last honey in the pot is mixed with water in order to create the campeche. This marks the end of


By:

Marino Jaén Espinosa
2011-03-10

The molienda is an activity whose purpose is to process a significant amount of sugar cane in order to obtain sugar cane honey, a delicacy used in many dishes and beverages in Panama. This task, when performed in the traditional way, takes a whole day.

The first step is to extract the sugar cane juice, also known as guarapo. This is done by using a traditional mill named trapiche. The trapiche is a mechanical device that uses the energy provided by a horse pulling a log named mijarra. The mijarra, in turn, pulls the rods that crush the canes in order to extract the guarapo that is collected in a tank.

When the milling of the workload is completed, the guarapo is transfered to a big steel pot. This pot lies on top of a mud oven that is heated by wood. The guarapo is cooked for at least six hours before it becomes sugar cane honey.

While the cooking process takes place, several simultaneous activities are performed. They include the skimming of the cachaza, that is a foam that appears on top of the guarapo. This cachaza needs to be periodically extracted from the pot. At first, the cachaza is green in color and sour in taste, but little by little becomes sweetter. A couple of hours after cooking began, the cachaza is usually given to the dogs. But later on, when the guarapo has almost turned into honey, the cachaza is well sought by the people attending the molienda, especially by children.

Another byproduct of the molienda is the honey-coated plantains. About an hour before the honey is ready, people introduce peeled, ripe plantains in cages into the pot, so that they get cooked in honey. They made great snacks.

At the end of the afternoon, the honey is ready. It is then poured into metal containers called latas. The residual honey that is left on the pot is sometimes combined with scraped coconut. In any case, the residual honey is mixed with water and the resulting solution is called campeche, which is also appreciated by the participants in the molienda. This marks the end of the molienda.


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