Panotsa, Panutsa, Panocha?

These words are used to refer to different things in various regions of the country, but the Philippine government now translates panocha as a class of muscovado sugar.

In the Philippines, four types of muscovado are produced: Class A (golden brown), B (brown), C (wood brown), and panocha.

cane sugar manufactured by a crude milling process

a chunk of cane sugar; a cake of brown sugar

a sweet Filipino delicacy made from sugar cane

Photo of Panutsa / Panotsa

Panocha also refers to a sweet treat that looks like a flat disk of crystallized, dark brown sugar that is studded with peanuts.

The Filipino treat called panocha (panotsa, panutsa) is traditionally made by crystallizing brown sugar with limewater, then pouring the mixture into a coconut shell until it hardens. That is why the shape of panocha is like that of a bowl.  It is broken up into small pieces to sweeten tea. In Leyte in the old days, they used the term pedazos de panocha (Spanish for “pieces of panocha”).

In  the Census of the Philippine Islands taken in 1903, it was noted that the term was pinocha in Romblon, and that panocha was used in Albay, Camarines, Antique, Bohol, Cavité, Cebú, La Laguna and Sorsogon.

Etymology: From the Spanish panocha, meaning a coarse grade of brown Mexican sugar. (Slang for the vulva.) Also spelled panuche in certain Spanish-speaking areas.

According to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, the English word PENUCHE is “a candy resembling fudge, made of brown sugar, milk, butter, and, sometimes, nuts.” Pronounced and misspelled as penuchi.