This time of year is perfect for baking – the warmth in your home, the smell in your kitchen, and the sweet flavors of delicious treats to share with friends and family. Dark, sticky molasses adds a sweet, almost smoky flavor to cookies and cakes, plus it pairs perfectly with winter spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg!
What is Molasses?
The most common forms of molasses are made from either sugarcane or sugar beet juice which is boiled down to a syrup. The sugar crystals are extracted from the syrup, and the remaining dark liquid is molasses.
Historically, molasses was produced in the Caribbean, where the cultivation of sugarcane and sugar beet was highest. During the early 20th century, molasses was imported to the United States; however, today molasses is produced on a large scale in Thailand, India, Taiwan, Brazil, the Philippines, and the United States.
Molasses labeling can be a bit confusing. Below is a guide to the three most common types of molasses: light, dark, and blackstrap.
This type of molasses is also known as Barbados, first, mild, or sweet molasses. It is made from the first boiling of the cane or beet juice. It is the lightest in color, has the sweetest taste, and is mildest in flavor. This is the most commonly sold molasses and is mostly used in baking. Light molasses helps to make cookies softer and bread crustier, and it can also be used in marinades and sauces.
This type of molasses is also known as full, robust, or second molasses. It is made from the second boiling of the cane or beet juice. It is thicker, less sweet, darker, and stronger in flavor than light molasses. Generally, it can be used as a substitute for light molasses and is what gives gingerbread cookies their distinct color and flavor.
This type of molasses is also known as final molasses. It is made from the third and final boiling of the cane or beet juice. It is the thickest and darkest in color, and also the least sweet with a pronounced bitter flavor. Because of its bitter flavor, this type of molasses is only used in recipes that specifically call for it and it cannot be substituted for light or dark molasses. However, blackstrap molasses is great in savor dishes like baked beans and pulled pork.
There are different varieties of molasses and each is processed in a different way. A few varieties include:
This is a byproduct of refining of sugar from sugar cane juice and beet molasses is a byproduct of the extraction of sucrose from sugar beets.
Molasses is also referred to as sulfured molasses if it has been extracted from young sugarcane and treated with sulfur dioxide for preservation. The sulfuring process can leave the molasses with a strong pronounced chemical flavor and is less sweet.
Molasses extracted from ripe sugarcane does not need sulfur and retains its rich and light flavor. This variety is referred to as unsulfured molasses. Most commercial molasses is unsulfured.
Molasses obtained from starch hydrolysis is called a hydrol.
Unlike refined sugars, this viscous, residual syrup contains substances, such as trace amounts of vitamins and several important minerals that provide your body with vital health benefits. Although the nutritional content and quality of molasses depends on the method involved in its refining process, the ripeness of the plant from which it is extracted, and the quantity of sugar that is extracted, molasses contains a number of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, iron, phosphorous, chromium, cobalt and sodium.
Molasses is a good source of energy, carbohydrate,s and it contains sugars as well. In addition to this, molasses offers various vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6, thiamine, and riboflavin. Molasses is very low in both fat content and fiber.
A 3.5-ounce serving of molasses contains 290 calories, 74.7 grams of carbohydrate, 0.1 grams of fat and no protein or fiber. It also provides 205 milligrams of calcium, which is 21 percent of the recommended daily value; 242 milligrams of magnesium, which is 61 percent of the recommended daily value; and 1,464 milligrams of potassium, which is 42 percent of the recommended daily value;
Molasses has many health benefits. It also helps to strengthen the immune system, maintain healthy levels of hemoglobin, and aid in the formation of new cells in the body.
Give your holiday baking just what it needs – the big, robust flavor of molasses. Add molasses to cookies, muffins, quick breads, or just about any baked goods that rely on either whole grain flours or aromatic spices. Add to hot cereals or sweeten cold cereals, use molasses in place of all or part of maple syrup in a recipe, use it when baking bread to give it a darker, richer color, or even make your own brown sugar. No matter how you decide to use it – molasses can add just the right touch to your recipe!