Alfeñique is a subproduct of sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum). Native to Asia, sugar cane was brought to Argentina in the 17th century for cultivation. In Tucuman and the north of the country, it has a rich history and is deeply rooted in the local cultures. The sub products that derive from the crop represent an inexpensive dietary energy source. To obtain Alfeñique, sugar cane is peeled, washed and crushed to extract its juices. The juice is cooked in a pan for eight to ten hours and stirred continuously. The resulting liquid is a thick syrup called cane honey, which is left to chill and then cooked in a pan with sugar and glucose until it forms a paste. When paste reaches optimal texture and takes on a dark color, it is chilled then cut into strips and shaped into its characteristic knots. The Alfeñique of Tucuman is golden ivory in color, and has the size of a cherry. Nowadays some local businesses also create a smaller version to avoid risk of choking or adhesion of the candy to the teeth. The production is of the Alfeñique is carried out entirely in areas that historically produce sugar cane such as Tucuman, Salta and Jujuy. Homemade as well as the varied factory-made versions of this culinary art still exist. It is sold in shops that showcase regional products or at local tourist fairs.
Image: Slow Food Archive