Molasses, also known as black treacle, comes from refining sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar. It is sticky, thick, and dark in color, used for sweetening and flavoring foods because it has a stronger flavor compared to other alternative sweetening syrups.
Molasses is the primary component of brown sugar.
Molasses is used for household application, food and beverages, chemical industry, pharmaceutical, animal feed, and other applications.
- When German chemist Andreas Marggraf discovered the presence of sugar in beets during the mid-1700s, it paved the way for using beets in making molasses.
- 2 million gallons of molasses were dumped into the streets of Boston after a 50-foot high storage tank burst on January 15, 1919.
- February 8 is National Molasses Bar Day.
- The Molasses Act of 1733 imposed duties on all sugar and molasses brought into North American colonies from non-British possessions.
- While sugar cane and sugar beet juice are the two most common sources of molasses, sorghum, pomegranate, carob, and dates are also used in producing molasses.
Molasses Buying Guide
It is easy to be confused when reading the label of molasses on the shelf, especially for those who are using or buying molasses for the first time. This is why it is important to be familiar with at least the basic information regarding the three common varieties of molasses.
- Light Molasses – The process of making molasses is a three-part boiling, and the light-colored molasses is the one made after the first boiling. It is the sweetest of the three types of molasses, the one with the mildest flavor, and the one with the lightest color. This is also known as Barbados molasses, first molasses, mild molasses, and sweet molasses. This is also the one commonly sold in the market. Use it for baking and for making marinades and sauces. Light molasses help make cookies softer and the bread crustier.
- Dark Molasses – This is the one made after the second boiling. Also known as full molasses, robust molasses, and second molasses, this is less sweet, darker and thick, and has a stronger flavor compared to light molasses. Dark molasses is used for making gingerbread cookies so that it achieves its usual color.
- Blackstrap Molasses – This is made from the third and final boiling and the healthiest of all three, having retained the most vitamins and minerals. This is the thickest, darkest in color, and the least sweet of the three; in fact, it has a hint of bitter flavor, which makes it ideal for savory dishes like baked beans and pulled pork.
Molasses Production & Farming in Texas
Data provided by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization indicate that from 1961 to 2014, the biggest producers of molasses are the regions of the Americas (39.2%) and Asia (32.1%). Europe accounts for 19.8% followed by Africa (6.7%) and Oceania (2.2%).
A 2018 report by Transparency Market Research (TMR) indicates the continued growth of the molasses industry, pointing out that “Latin America and Asia Pacific are expected to emerge as promising markets for molasses. By 2025, 42.7% of the total market share will be held by Asia Pacific.”
According to Global News Wire, the global molasses market is expected to reach $16.6 billion by 2027. The report also added that the U.S. market is estimated to reach $3.5 billion in 2020, while China is at 6.8% CAGR (compound annual growth rate). The molasses market in Japan and Canada is estimated to experience 1.1% and 2.8% growth respectively over the 2020-2027 period.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
- Sulphur dioxide – This preservative is commonly used in molasses. Manufacturers seeking to distinguish their product mark theirs as unsulphured if this is not used for the product.
Molasses are sold in glass or plastic bottles in different quantities. The bottle contains a label that indicates what type of molasses is in the container and other important information for the consumer.
Molasses is preferred during fall and winter baking to add or enhance the sweet and smoky flavor of food complementing popular winter spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
Consider temperature when storing molasses. It is safe to store molasses at room temperature in the pantry but if it is too hot or humid, there is a chance for mold growth. This also means do not store molasses somewhere where it is directly exposed to sunlight. If you are keeping molasses in the pantry, there is no need to transfer it to another container. You can refrigerate molasses but be warned: it will thicken. This means you have to heat it so that the molasses returns to its original viscosity. With proper storage, molasses should keep for 1 to 5 years. If there is mold growth or if the aroma or color is different compared to when it was first bought, discard it.
Make your own chewy molasses cookies:
Cookies, without question, is all-time comfort food. Make your own chew molasses cookies so that you have something to chase away your sweet cravings. It goes well with cold and hot beverages. You can also offer it as a snack if you have visitors, or bring some at work to share with co-workers. Put this in a secure food container and you have something you can give away as a gift during special occasions.
4 dozen cookies
For the molasses cookies:
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 (2-inch) knob fresh ginger, finely grated and juices reserved
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Granulated sugar, for rolling
For the lemon glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (use 2 lemons)
Step 1: Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 350°F.
Step 2: Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and then set aside.
Step 3: In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, olive oil, molasses, and brown sugar. You can also use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.)Beat on medium speed until fluffy and lightened in color. Beat in the egg until smooth. Beat in the fresh ginger and its juice.
Step 4: Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, salt, and pepper. Beat on low speed until evenly mixed. The dough should be soft.
Step 5: Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes but no longer than 3 days.
Step 6: Pour 1/2 cup of granulated sugar into a shallow bowl.
Step 7: Divide the dough into 4 portions. Divide the first part into 12 walnut-sized chunks, and roll each into a ball. Roll the ball lightly in the sugar, then place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the second portion of dough, placing the balls on the second baking sheet.
Step 8: Bake for 6 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets between racks and from front to back. Bake until set, about 6 minutes more. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire cooling racks and cool completely.
Step 9: Let the baking sheets cool, then repeat with remaining dough. While the remainder of the cookies cool, make the glaze.
Step 10: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk the lemon juice together with the granulated and powdered sugars. Use immediately.
Step 11: Using a fork, drizzle the glaze over the cookies in a thin swirl, or paint it on with a pastry brush. Let sit until the glaze hardens.