What is Molasses?

Picture of Molasses Container

Molasses

Molasses

Molasses is also known as treacle. It is a byproduct of processing sugar cane or sugar beets into sugar. It contains roughly 30% sucrose, 12% glucose, and 12% fructose.

How is it Made?

The manufacturing process differs depending on the main ingredient. Sugar cane or sugar beets can be used. Molasses produced from sugar cane is most common in cooking and baking.

Sugar Cane Process:

  1. Sugar cane is harvested. The leaves are removed.
  2. The cane is crushed (or mashed). This removes the juice.
  3. The juice is boiled.

Light:

Light molasses is produced after the first boiling of the sugar cane or sugar beet. It is light in colour. It is sweet in taste. Other names include sweet, Barbados, first or mild molasses.

Dark:

Dark molasses comes after the second boiling when more sugar is extracted. It is darker in colour, thicker and less sweet.

Blackstrap:

Blackstrap molasses is the syrup produced after the third boiling. It is very thick and dark in colour. It has a bitter taste.

Sulphured:

Sulphur dioxide is sometimes added as a preservative. The sulphur dioxide helps prevent fermentation. Green sugar cane that has not matured long enough may ferment. The sulphur dioxide changes the flavour, so molasses may be labelled sulphured or unsulphured.

Fancy:

Fancy molasses isn’t actually a by-product of the sugar making process. It is produced directly from the juice of the sugar cane. It is the lightest and sweetest of the different types.

Cooking:

Cooking molasses is a blend of fancy and blackstrap molasses.

Sorghum:

Sorghum syrup is sometimes called sorghum molasses. It is made from juice extracted from a plant called sorghum cane. Sorghum Cane looks a bit like corn without the ears. The juice is boiled and reduced, producing a mild flavoured syrup. This syrup tends to have a thinner consistency than molasses.

When cooking or baking, sorghum can be substituted one-for-one with molasses.  However, any additional sugar should be cut by 1/3 because sorghum is sweeter than molasses.

How Does It Compare to Other Sweeteners:

Because it is not fully refined, it is generally quite low on a relative sweetness scale.

Relative Sweetness Scale Showing Molasses

Sweetness Scale

This scale uses pure sucrose as the reference. All other sweeteners are compared to it.

Uses:

There are many different uses for molasses. It is used in rum production, dark rye breads, and some types of beer. It is also used as a source for yeast production.

Nutrition:

It contains no protein or dietary fibre. It contains almost no fat. One tablespoon (20 g) contains 11.1 grams of sugar.

It can contain significant amounts of several minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.

Your Thoughts:

What do you think of molasses? Do you like the taste? Do you have any favourite recipes or links that you would like to share?

Leave a comment here or on the Food-Construed Facebook page.

Thanks.

Further Reading:

  1. Grandma’s Pantry – Molasses vs. Sorghum
  2. Amish Acres – Is it Sorghum or Molasses?
  3. Wikipedia – Molasses
Posted in Baking, Cooking, Ingredients

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