Sugar Cane Cooler, A Summer Drink

We have a summer Saturday morning ritual that my kids love. We get up and, while strolling the local farmer’s market, have breakfast at one of the stalls. The past few years my son has eaten chicken tamales from the tamale people, but as of this year they no longer work our farmers market. In its place is something even better — Miss Arepas. Arepas are Venezuelan corn cakes filled with beef, chicken, pork or cheese with a cilantro-parsley based sauce. Miss Arepas serves the best arepas I have ever tasted, not that I am any kind of expert, but they are large and hot and delicious. Traditionally, arepas are served with a sugar cane drink called papelon con limon. Miss Arepas served papelon once, but I don’t think it sold well. It was so refreshing I had to figure out how to make my own.
You will probably need to go to a Latino market for the sugar cane. It is sold in my local Mexican market in 8 ounce conical shaped blocks called piloncillo. It is also known panela or papelon. I like the caramel and lemon overtones, similar to regular ice tea.

Sugar Cane Cooler
7 c. water
1 (8 oz.) conical block of sugar cane
Juice of 1 lemon plus juice of two key limes

In a 5-quart stock pot place water and bring to a boil. Add the sugar cane block and continue boiling until the sugar cane has completely melted. This should take 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add citrus juices. Stir. Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate until very cold. Serve over ice.

Sugar Cane Cooler


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