What are molasses?

by | Mar 10, 2023 | Blog, Cooking Tips and Tricks | 0 comments

Growing up in my NJ American Italian household, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to molasses. I think my first time even hearing about it might have been from reading some Mark Twain novel. However, the product’s importance and impact on American history (and the slave trade), can not be overstated. So what are molasses?

Molasses are a syrup that is made during the sugar making process. When sugar cane and sugar beets are refined into sugar, a byproduct are molasses. Juice extracted from sugarcane and sugar beets is boiled down until the sugar crystallizes and precipitates out. The syrup that is left over after the crystallization are molasses. Molasses are actually the ingredient in brown sugar that contribute to its flavor, moisture level, and color. 

Light molasses are generally collected after the first boiling cycle of sugarcane juice. This will have the highest sugar content and least viscous texture. Dark or Medium molasses comes from the second boiling cycle, and will be darker and have less sugar content than light molasses. Blackstrap molasses are lower in sugar, and higher in vitamin and mineral content since it’s more concentrated than standard molasses. Each of these varieties can be found in sulfured and unsulfured variations. Sulfur acts as a preservative and can leave a chemical aftertaste. 

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Written by David Salerno

Originally from the Northeast, David (he/him) has been in Seattle since 2016. He studied classic culinary arts at the French Culinary Institute in NYC and currently works as the Senior Meal Program Coordinator at HIP. He can completely nerd out over culinary anthropology and can talk about food and food science for hours with anyone who is willing to listen. When not in the kitchen, you can find him playing hockey or running in different neighborhoods of Seattle.

March 10, 2023

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