Test Kitchen tips: Grating piloncillo and solid sugar blocks


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If you’ve ever worked with solid sugar ‘blocks’ -- like piloncillo cones or those large disks of palm sugar -- you know how difficult they can be to break apart. I think it’s the only time I’ve ever seen a hammer called for in a recipe.

Needless to say, my jaw dropped when a friend mentioned that he used a vegetable grater to break down the sugar before using. I immediately had to try it. And, yeah, it works like magic.


Maybe it’s not as dramatic (or, perhaps, as secretly thrilling) as taking a good whack at a block of sugar with a hammer, but it’s definitely safer. And it certainly makes less of a mess.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you’d like me to explore, leave a comment below or email me at


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-- Noelle Carter