Molasses aka black treacle is a by-product of refining sugar beet into sugar. Etymologically Mel means Honey! That is a very sweet tasting word root for Molasses!
When sugar cane is crushed, juiced, boiled, and sugar is extracted by allowing it to crystallize, light to the dark residue is begotten during the process. The first residue is molasses of the highest quality and grade and contains the highest sugar quantity. This is grade-A molasses.
In other words, the residue mother liquor left after the crystallization of sugarcane is molasses. Further processing and extraction result in molasses of varying sugar mix and grades. Molasses are of different grades depending on the amount of sugar content in it. The type of molasses varies by the process, type of plant, and concentration of sugar in it.
Discovery of molasses.
Plantation slaves in the Caribbean first discovered molasses in the early seventeenth century. The first mention of molasses is dated back to early books of Portuguese conquests of the Caribbean. Molasses later traveled to the United States via the voyagers from the West Indies where it was used to make RUM! Molasses when fermented, distilled, and purified to produce rum which is enjoyed worldwide as a social drink!
Types of molasses.
The various types of molasses vary in their color, consistency, flavor, and concentration of sugar.
- Light and Dark variety. This is the syrup produced by the initial and subsequent boiling.
- Blackstrap molasses. This syrup is produced by the third (final) boiling of sugar cane. this is the mildest form
- Treated molasses. Sugar is sulfured as a part of the treatment process to gain its color, the resulting molasses could be sulfured or unsulphured
- Other types (mixed with sugars)
Where is Molasses primarily used?
- The lighter/milder edible grades are used in the baking industry as a sweetening agent as an alternative to sugar and in candy-making
- Rum is a popular liquor made by fermenting and distilling molasses. The distillate is stored in oak barrels in distilleries, graded, and checked for quality, before branding and marketing. The majority of rums are produced in sugar-producing countries, like the Caribbean islands of West Indies, the Americas, the Philippines, and India.
- Blackstrap which is a low-grade molasses is used in producing cattle feed and also finds itself useful in the industries in manufacturing citric acid and types of kinds of vinegar.
- Molasses being less sweet has a distinct earthy flavor, would go well when mixed with other sweeteners like brown and white sugar and used extensively in sauces, in glazes, shakes, a warm glass of milk or tea or coffee.
How does molasses taste?
By and large, molasses has a warm, sweet, smoky flavor. Flavour also depends on the color, the robust flavor is the dark and medium variety while the milder flavors are the light-colored ., while blackstrap molasses is less sweet with a unique bitter taste.
Is molasses a healthy choice?
Although Molasses is considered a healthy choice compared to Sulfured sugar, as it is packed with nutrients and antioxidants, it might make sense to note that it has a similar Glycaemic index and consumption may raise blood sugar levels. It may be used as a replacement for sugar but consumed in the excess amount it is equally harmful as sugars.
Other known health benefits are
- It is a rich source of iron, selenium, and copper and helps maintain bone health.
- Molasses contains calcium, which plays a vital role in bone health and also prevents osteoporosis, a condition of the bone.
- Blackstrap molasses has the most health benefits and can be found in health food stores, owing to its highest mineral and vitamin content.
How is molasses stored?
Unopened jars of molasses stored in a cool, dry, dark location, will last for up to one year. Humidity and heat are the biggest threats to storing molasses and can lead to bacteria to grow into mold. Best stored sealed in its original packaging in which it was purchased. Ensure to securely seal the jar after use and avoid contact with moisture as it will spoil very soon if in contact with moisture and dampness.
Molasses Storage Tips:
- Sealed properly and airtight, storing in a cool and dry place increases the shelf life of molasses.
- Opened bottles would last 1-5 years if stored properly and sealed after each use.
- Sealed unopened bottles of molasses would easily remain consumable for 10 years or more when stored appropriately.
- Sulphured and unsulphured varieties of molasses too can be stored easily by following the above tips.
- Refrigeration may help to keep the temperature consistent, especially in warm climates.
Does Molasses Go Bad? Is it OK to use expired molasses!
While most food/baking products have a use-by /expiration date, molasses has a best before date
Due to this distinction, it may safely be used way after the best before date has passed.
Molasses stays safe and good to consume months past the use-by date. Also, If the use-by date is not mentioned in the jar, molasses can still be used safely for two years after purchase.
How do I identify a bad batch of molasses?
Here is what one needs to look
- How old is the molasses, has it been stored over 10 years? It will spoil eventually over this time.
- Typical signs include mold, unpleasant odor, and change in taste.
- Mold can be very tiny and difficult to spot.
- Color change and an unpleasant aroma.