Molasses: Everything You Need to Know
Most of you, at one point or another, have probably heard the phrase “slower than molasses.” If you’ve happened to use molasses in the kitchen in the past, you’ve had a clear vision of what that phrase really means when you go to pour it. Molasses is indeed a thick and honey-like liquid that not only works as a sweetener, but also helps to add just the right texture to some of your favorite dishes. It’s time to learn about molasses: everything you need to know.
Related Topic: How To Make Vanilla Extract and How to Make Brown Sugar
Molasses: Everything You Need to Know
For those of you who don’t use it that often, you may not know which type of molasses is right for you. Or maybe you simply want to have a better understanding of how the different types come about? I’d be more than happy to share with you. Be sure to stick around for the end because I have a number of recipes that call for molasses that I’m sure you’ll love. Here’s more on molasses and everything that you need to know about it. In case you missed this post, Chewy Molasses Cookies Just Like Grandma Made
What is Molasses?
Molasses is a dark and thick syrup that is derived from the sugar-making process. The sugar beets or sugar cane are first crushed, and then the juices are separated. The juice is then boiled which causes it to take the form of sugar crystals. These sugar crystals are then removed, leaving you with the thick brown syrup. This process is repeated over and over, where each time brings you a different type of molasses.
Difference Between Sulphured and Unsulphured Molasses
As you may have suspected, sulfured molasses involves adding sulfur dioxide, which then works as a food preservative. This tends to bring about a stronger and more intense flavor, and sometimes even a noticeable chemical taste to it. This is why most people tend to go with unsulphured molasses because it has a sweeter and cleaner flavor. In fact, most of the commercial brands that you find at your local grocery store are most likely the unsulphured type.
What is Light Molasses? (Regular, Original, Mild)
Light molasses is the most popular choice that consumers go with because the flavor isn’t overpowering, but still works to support the other flavors around it. It also has a lighter color and flavor and is produced from the first boiling of the sugar syrup. People use regular molasses, especially more so around the holidays when they’re baking pecan pies, molasses cookies, and holiday cakes. No matter which molasses recipe that you have laid out before you, your family won’t be left disappointed if you choose to go with regular.
What is Dark Molasses? (Full, Robust, Second)
Dark molasses is produced when it’s undergone a second round of boiling. The final result is a syrup that is darker, thicker, and not as sweet. It has a much stronger flavor than light molasses, so you need to be sure that you don’t use too much of it. It complements ginger very nicely, which is why people often use it to make gingerbread cake or cookies. Dark molasses also tastes delicious when made into a barbecue sauce that is slathered on a piece of meat, or added to baked beans.
When Should I Use Blackstrap Molasses?
Blackstrap molasses is made from a third boiling process, resulting in gooey syrup that’s more bitter in flavor than the rest. To give you a clearer understanding of what blackstrap molasses is, it’s basically the dregs of the barrel, but it does come richer in minerals. It has iron and other minerals, along with a few vitamins, such as B6.
It’s most commonly used when added to livestock feed, but there are a few cooks out there who will add it to barbecue sauces used with various types of meat. Just be sure that you never use it in sweet dishes, because you’ll be bitterly disappointed. (No pun intended) You also should never use it when substituting it for another type of molasses that a recipe is calling for.
Potential Health Benefits
It may surprise you, but there happen to be a number of different health benefits that molasses brings to the table, thanks to the vitamins and minerals that are present. For starters, molasses may actually help to improve your overall bone health. That’s because of the iron, copper, selenium, and calcium that’s present.
Molasses may also help you maintain a healthier heart as well, as it works to regulate your blood pressure with the potassium that is present in it. Supplementing molasses in your diet can increase the level of good cholesterol in your body, helping protect you from strokes and heart disease.
Molasses also contains a handful of antioxidants, even surprisingly more so than honey and other natural sweeteners. Studies have revealed that these same antioxidants can protect your cells from oxidative stress, which is known to cause different types of cancer, along with other diseases.
How To Make Your Own Brown Sugar
Have you ever gone to the pantry and realized you forgot to pick up some brown sugar at the grocery store? It seems to happen when you’re in the middle of making chocolate chip cookies and BAM, no brown sugar. No worries, if you stock molasses and white sugar you can make it fresh anytime you need it. Just blend the following ingredients and you have brown sugar in just minutes.
Light Brown Sugar is one cup of white granulated sugar and one tablespoon of molasses, mix with a fork until completely mixed. If making larger quantities use a mixer.
Dark Brown Sugar is one cup of white granulated sugar and two tablespoons of molasses, mix with a fork until completely mixed. If making larger quantities use a mixer.
Try These Recipes that Call for Molasses
Now that you have a better understanding of the different types of molasses, I figured that I would give you a few recipes that you could get started with. Each of them has a unique, yet sweet and savory flavor that I’m sure that your whole family will love. While most of these are especially popular around the holidays, I guarantee no one will be complaining should you decide to try them out any time throughout the year.
- Molasses-Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- Sourdough Pumpernickel Dark Rye Bread (with molasses)
- Molasses Cookies (Chewy and yummy recipe)
- Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie
- Spiced Molasses Drops
- Sweet Potato Pie with Molasses Whipped Cream
Molasses: Everything You Need to Know
So there you have it, folks. Though most people have a preference for one type of molasses over another, each of them works well with different hearty recipes. It’s great in baked beans, adds tons of sweet flavor to barbecue sauce, and gives gingerbread cookies just the right amount of brown and delicious chewiness. Do you have a favorite molasses recipe or dish that you’d be willing to share with everyone? I’d love to hear from you. May God Bless this world, Linda
32 thoughts on “Molasses: Everything You Need to Know”
I’ve made tomato-less Barbecue sauce using Molasses. 1 cup each of Molasses, mustard, and vinegar. My FIL loved BBQ, but was highly allergic to tomatoes. The recipe is on the back of my Molasses bottle.
Hi Deborah, wow, I need to try that recipe. Mark likes this brand called “Kinders” barbecue sauce, so I stock that one. I looked at my molasses bottles and it has a recipe for Gingerbread cookies! Great tip on the BBQ sauce without tomatoes! Thank You!! Linda
Just tried black strap, about 1/2tsp, in my morning coffee. Outstanding! FYI: I like my coffee dark and rich. Not sure how it would be with lighter blends.
Great site. Have followed u for years. Keep up the good work. We love you and all that you do.
Hi Jane, oh you just make my day!! I thank you from the bottom of my heart! Hugs from Utah, Linda
I use molasses in my garden to keep apple maggots out of my trees. In a gallon milk jug(not from Costco), I put in 2 banana peels, 1/2 c. sugar, 1/4 c. molasses . 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar. I then fill the jug up with water 1/2 up the jug. I them hang them at eye-level inside my trees. Use 1-4 per tree depending on the size of your tree. The maggots come in at the time your apples have finished blossoming. That is when it is important to get these traps in. The smell can get pretty strong after you get them in the tree and that is what you want. It draws the flies in., they go into the jug and drown because they can’t get out. Keep the jugs in the tree all season. I keep mine in until the next year and then drain the old stuff out and replace it with new. I have done this for years and it works. One year I didn’t do it and my apples were all unusable. WE make juice and sauce every year and don’t spray any of our trees (25 of them).
Hi Cheryl, oh my gosh, this will help so many people with apple trees!!! Thank you for sharing the recipe and how you hang it. We used to have apple trees, wow!! I love this! Linda
While you’re there, I need help with high altitude baking. We moved to an area 12 miles north of Show Low, AZ, at 5,600 feet from CA and sea level. I’ve scoured the internet and haven’t found any recipes that work. None of the ingredient adjustment flop. I can’t make any of your wonderful breads!
I had a successful bakery in California and am anxious to get this problem solved. Any suggestions?
Hi Jane, oh my gosh, let’s figure this out. I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah: Elevation: 4226 above sea level. “AND” Logan, Utah: Elevation: 4534 above sea level. I’m trying to find a Bosch Bread Mixer store near you. I found Phoenix but that won’t help. The elevation is a whole lot lower. My daughter lives in Flagstaff, Az Elevation: 6909 above sea level. I have made my bread at her house. I remember it took more flour, which was weird, I never thought about the elevation. I have made the same recipe for 50 years. This is the only chart I would trust: https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/learn/resources/high-altitude-baking. Let me know if these tricks work. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Please let me know if these tips work. I may have to go to Flagstaff and make bread! Linda
I love molasses cookies. I still use my grandmother’s recipe when I do make them. I also have a recipe for market bread – it is a very dark bread and it takes a good amount of molasses. It also makes 10 loaves of bread!! So, as a single person, I don’t make that anymore.
I recall when I was growing up, every morning, mom gave us kids a spoonful of molasses. Probably/likely for the vitamins/minerals.
Hi Leanne, oh my gosh, a spoonful of molasses, I love it! My mother made bread with sorghum or molasses, whichever one she could get cheaper. It was my favorite bread, it made so many loaves. I need to bring that recipe out and share the original one but cut it way down. It had raisins in it and my gosh, It was yummy. I just went and got the recipe. It makes ten 1-1/2 pound loaves. If she didn’t have sorghum she would substitute dark molasses and brown sugar. It has 6 cups whole wheat flour, 7 cups white flour, but then the recipe says add 12 more cups flour. Whoa, I need to see if I can figure this recipe out. LOL! It was one of those loaves of bread you couldn’t wait to toast and slather with butter. Memories are great! Linda
It sounds like a Sponge Recipe Bread. You set up the day before with the basics and about half the flour. Then cover and let long rise overnight. The next day you add the remaining flour, rise it again, then bake it. I used to make it in 2 batches because I didn’t have enough oven space and pans. The old name is Scottish Sponge Bread, but my recipe was 100% Stoneground Whole Wheat. It tastes really good, reminiscent of a mild Sourdough. I also have a recipe for a Whole wheat Sponge English Muffins.
Hi MaryAnn, as I looked at the recipe, I really don’t know how she physically punched it down! It was the biggest mound of dough I have ever seen. But boy, it was the best bread ever! I love making bread! Linda
My Mother would make Molasses taffy anytime she wanted us busy and out of her hair when she had important things to do. She also made Molasses Puff candy. A vinegar based molasses syrup that you added baking soda too. Then it puffed up enormously and we broke it up into pieces with a hammer. It looked like brown sea foam., and was sticky, unless it stayed airtight and cool..It was called Sponge Candy because it looked like natural sea sponge.
MaryAnn – I didn’t even think about the molasses taffy! We made it occasionally but not every year. Mostly we made honey taffy because we had hives and plenty of honey. I imagine it depended on the sale of cattle in the fall whether we had a surplus of molasses. Mostly the molasses was used for our daily spoonful and molasses cookies and gingerbread.
Hi Linda, MA from Boston. Imagine you mentioning cold molasses this particular week. Just this past weekend was the Anniversary of the Great Molasses Flood in the North End of Boston, MA in 1919. Caused by a warm spell of abnormally warm weather at the end of January. Molasses in a storage tank, got too warm and expanded in the tank until it ruptured. Imagine a 32 foot wave of Molasses rolling down Commercial Street to the sea, wiping out everything in it’s path. For complete details check out Wikipedia or Google. The damage was major, including the Elevated Railway. Now, wherever did you find Brer Rabbit Molasses? It’s the best and I haven’t see it in years. In Boston we use Molasses in Baked Beans, Steamed Brown Bread, Shoo Fly Pie, Molasses Taffy and Puff Candy, our spice cookies, Treacle (Molasses) Pudding, Dark Fruit Cake, Christmas Pudding, and Barbecue Sauce. A dollop of Molasses (dark, preferably) can be used in meat stews, Indian Pudding, it goes on Pancakes and Waffles, and a taste in apple pie. Molasses and Vinegar make up the Summer Harvest drink Switchel. A touch in Oatmeal Cookies tastes sublime, and in Johnny cake too. Never forget that Molasses is the basis for Rum, and the trade for Rum to the Caribbean, paid for slaves brought to this land. Kept cool it lasts a long, long, time and I suggest it, along with honey, and Maple Syrup, for a Prepper’s Stockpile. Black strap is a valuable commodity for Preppers as it can be used as a Natural Supplement for Iron and the B Vitamins. Important for women and the elderly. It works made into cough drops with herbs, as well as a syrup to control tough coughs. It can be added to Winter Squashes, Sweet Potatoes, and other savory dishes, as well as breads to enhance nutrition.
Hi MaryAnn, oh my gosh, I remember Shoo Fly pie, Molasses taffy my mom made. I will have to check the grocery stores the time I go for that molasses. I’m in awe about how many ways we can use molasses. Thank you so much for sharing the story about the Great Molasses Flood, oh my gosh! I bought that brand because that’s what my mom always had in the pantry, how funny! Best comment EVER! Linda
Also – I wasn’t aware there was any other brand than Brer Rabbit – at least that is all I ever see in the stores. I suppose my local health food store might have a different brand but…
Here it’s Grandma’s or Store brand. There is also Plantation Brand Molasses, I’ve only seen that on Amazon. Haven’t seen Brer Rabbit in 40 years! Didn’t know it was still being made. Honey taffy sounds great. Please post that sometime.. MA
Leanne’s Mom’s Honey Taffy
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
touch of vanilla – mom didn’t measure this but I imagine it was about 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon
Cook without stirring until hard ball stage. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cool on large dinner plates greased with butter. When cool enough to handle (it should still be pretty hot), grease your hands with butter and pull until creamy color. Cut into bite sized pieces.
NOTE: the faster it cooks the better it is BUT watch it so it doesn’t scorch. Also, mom always said NEVER, NEVER make candy when it is cloudy – only when it is clear. She said the mixture would sugar and that apparently is a bad thing!! It is best to have at least two people pulling for each plate that you use. So, if I remember correctly, we used 3 large dinner plates but my memory might be hazy!
Thanks Leanne, looks good. More people should realize how easy it is to make candy. Your Mom is correct about the weather. The barometric pressure and the humidity are critical to candy making. Under High Pressure areas is the best time to make candy. Cool, dry, and sunny weather. Cloudy, grey, rainy, snow, summer’s oppressive humidity are days it will fail. That also affects fudge and things like butterscotch and brittles. Thank You for that recipe for Honey Taffy. MA
I remember Brer Rabbit from my childhood – loved that bottle label >>> haven’t seen it since – I’ll have to “Amazon” it and see if it’s available ….
There’s also an extremely well-written history of the Molasses Flood–“Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919,” Not just the tragedy itself and immediate consequences, but the long-term effects. One was that because the massive tank had been poorly constructed (rushed, with sub-standard materials, and its leakage concealed by painting it brown!) there was a nationwide call for better documentation of all structures and inspection prior to use. Another–the tank had been deliberately built in a section of Boston mostly inhabited by Italian immigrants, who apparently didn’t tend to aim toward citizenship and therefore the vote–but the damage done in that section convinced them of the need to have a say in their neighborhoods, and change that view of citizenship.
Excellent book, I have read it myself. I’m a native Bostonian, so naturally of interest to me. Most of that destroyed section has never been rebuilt, a large public park is there and a memorial. The fire station was rebuilt and has become the home of our BFD Marine Response Units. Nice to know someone else has read such a good book. The Wikipedia entry on the Great Molasses Flood is accurate, I think it was updated using book information. Some of the Newspaper accounts of the time are a little off. Another factor was the location of the tank being somewhat upgrade from a populated area. We were very fortunate that so few were killed and injured that day. Thanks for your response. MA
Again, Linda, thx for getting back to me.
Will open the KArthur link u sent. Who knew?
We only have a WMart and small grocery on the other side of the same street here in our little northern AZ “small town.” Town is 7 miles away. We just learn to adapt and create from there. Woohoo! It’s grounded folks like you that make the world really go round.
Hi Jane, let me know if the adjustments work!! I really never thought about it. People need to be aware of the elevation! Thanks again, Linda
Thank you Deborah!! Can’t wait to try it!!
And don’t forget the molasses in haymakers’ switchel! Sort of the original sports drink.
1 gal. water
1 c. sugar (up to 2 cups if desired))
1 c. molasses
1 c. vinegar
1 tsp. ginger
I also like to add 1/2 to 1 c. raw oatmeal–makes it a little “smoother”–settles to the bottom of the jug and it’s delicious to eat after the switchel is all drunk up!
Hi Rhonda, oh my gosh, you and Leanne have the best recipes!! I want to try making both of these recipes! Linda
Ohmygosh we’re Pennsylvania Dutch & around here we put molasses in just about everything, haha!
Folks even use it for thinning hair. 🙂
I use a lot of blackstrap molasses but then again, grew up with this flavor. It’s so packed with minerals it’s a great addition to cooking & baking. We almost always add it to our overnight oatmeal & baked oatmeal. Yum!
Thanks for another great post Linda!
Hi Amy, oh my gosh, I love your comment! Thank you for your kind words. My hair is so thin, I wish it would thicken my hair!! LOL! Linda
I try to donate blood a couple times a year but I would not infrequently fail the pre-donation test for Iron in my blood with a “too low” reading… Someone suggested I try supplementing with molasses before my next scheduled donation, which I did (blackstrap variety)…It worked for me! Not only did I pass the pretest, I was told my iron level was “high”…never before in my life! Now I am making it a routine for my tea or coffee daily. Thank you for the information.
Hi Karen, oh my gosh, I love hearing this! I need to try adding molasses to my hot drinks! Love it! Linda