Molasses

Molasses, while not as sweet as honey, is a superb flavoring ingredient in foods ranging from cookies to baked beans.
Molasses, or treacle (in Britain), is a reduction of sugary liquid after the crystals are removed. Sugar cane is most often used to produce molasses for food products and brewing, although sugar beets and pomegranates may also be harvested. It is not as sweet as maple syrup, but is more full-bodied. Brown sugar is made with molasses, which makes it a stronger, darker sweetener.

Gingerbread and fruitcakes are particular molasses favorites along with homemade glazes and barbecue sauces for use with meats and poultry.

Varieties

Molasses is the liquid that forms when sugar cane is boiled and the crystals (granulated sugar) are removed. To achieve a range of flavors, molasses is heated one or more times to produce the following:

Light – The “first” boiling or reduction. Sweet and used as a table condiment as well as in baking. Also known as “mild” or “original.”

Dark – The second reduction produces a thicker molasses that is less sweet. Used in bolder desserts and for marinades or savory additives.

Blackstrap – Very thick with a hint of bitterness. Typically added to light molasses before use and not recommended as a topping. Found in health food markets.

Molasses may be “unsulfured” or “sulfured,” meaning that sulfur dioxide was added during the boiling process as a preservative. Younger cane products are usually sulfured, which also makes it less desirable than more mature unsulfured molasses.

Treacle is actually sweeter than light molasses. The color variations are similar.

Sorghum molasses is not a true molasses. It is derived from the “sorghum” plant and sometimes labeled “West Indies.” Keep refrigerated, as it will ferment, even though preservatives are added.

Storage Tips

Store at room temperature (not above 70ºF.). Light and dark molasses will keep up to two years while blackstrap should be used within three months. If surface mold develops, remove with a spoon.

Usage Tips

If a recipe is non-specific, use dark molasses.

Coat utensils and measuring cups with cooking spray; molasses will be easier to stir and pour.

Some crystallization may occur with age. To remove, place in saucepan, heat on low, and stir gently.

When using darker molasses

Related Recipes

View BigOven's molasses recipes

by BigOven editorial team
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