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Piloncillo and Pumpkin

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Pumpkin in syrupCalabaza en Jarabe is pumpkin in syrup. This is a tasty old-fashioned Mexican dessert that you can serve for Halloween.

Piloncillo is the traditional cone shape of unrefined sugar commonly used in Mexican cooking. Piloncillo (which means little pylon) is made when sugar cane is crushed, the juice is collected and boiled then poured into pylon-shaped molds.

Piloncillo is hard. It requires grating, chiseling or pounding, but the flavor is intense.

Try this calabaza en jarabe, pumpkin in piloncillo syrup, with apple slices or cream or both.

Piloncillo and Pumpkin

Yield 6-8 servings


  • 1 two-pound pumpkin
  • 1 pound piloncillo (or ½ pound each light and dark brown sugar)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch salt


  1. Cut pumpkin into wedges. Remove seeds and strings. Cut wedges into 1½ to 2-inch pieces; peel.
  2. Place piloncillo inside a double plastic bag and pound—you might need a hammer–to break up (or substitute the light and dark brown sugar).
  3. Cut off ends of orange, then cut into thin slices.
  4. In a 3-quart saucepan, layer peeled pumpkin pieces, broken up piloncillo or brown sugars and orange slices. Add cinnamon stick, bay leaf, water and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer gently 2 hours. Boil gently uncovered 30 to 40 minutes longer to reduce syrup. Do not stir.

Courses Dessert

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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How To Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash

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