15 of Your Molasses Questions, Answered

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Since molasses is a sweetener in many of our favorite baked goods, there are plenty of questions about it. We’ve compiled the most commonly asked questions and answered them here.

The questions:

  1. What is molasses?
  2. What does molasses taste like?
  3. What can I use molasses for?
  4. Can molasses go bad?
  5. Should I refrigerate molasses?
  6. Should molasses smell?
  7. How is molasses made?
  8. Who sells molasses?
  9. Where can I find it in the grocery store?
  10. Why add molasses to bread?
  11. What molasses to use for baking?
  12. What molasses to use for cookies?
  13. Which molasses has the most iron?
  14. What are the best substitutes for molasses?
  15. How many carbs are there in molasses?

1. What is molasses?

Molasses, also known as “black treacle,” is a thick, sticky, dark-brown syrup that’s obtained as a byproduct of sugar production from sugar cane or sugar beet. Traditionally, molasses is added to batters and foods to flavor and sweeten them.

2. What does molasses taste like?

Molasses has a subtly sweet, kind of spicy, somewhat smoky flavor with a polarizing bitterness to it that, depending on your taste preferences, you will either love or hate—and have a hard time not feeling strong about.

Generally speaking, there are three kinds of molasses: light molassesdark molasses, and blackstrap molasses. Light molasses has a bright color and a mild taste, blackstrap molasses is pitch-black and overtly bitter, and dark molasses stands somewhere in-between.

3. What can I use molasses for?

Spread molasses on sliced whole-wheat bread to make yourself a breakfast snack with a sweet and smoky flavor. Add it to cookie batters and dark breads to impart them with a savory taste and chewy texture. Some people stir it into ice cream, frozen yogurt, and pudding mixes.

Less sweet compared to sugar or maple syrup, warm and smoky molasses is ideal for adding to homemade BBQ sauce and sweetening up chilis, braises, and stews.

4. Can molasses go bad?

Molasses is a shelf-stable food with a long shelf life. Tightly sealed and stored in a cool and dry place such as inside a kitchen cabinet or in your pantry, a jar of molasses can last for as many as ten years before going bad.

5. Should I refrigerate molasses?

There’s no need to refrigerate an unopened jar of molasses. However, many people prefer to keep opened jars in the fridge. This applies to light, dark, and blackstrap molasses, whether it’s made from sugar cane, sugar beets, or pomegranate.

The byproduct of refined sugar, molasses consists of 22% water, 75% carbohydrates, trace amounts of fat (0.1%), and no protein at all. As such, it’s considered hygroscopic (capable of absorbing moisture), inhibits bacterial growth, and deters insects.

6. Should molasses smell?

Molasses has a sharp, bittersweet smell that many would describe as pleasant and earthy. However, if an old jar of molasses smells off or you see mold spots on the syrup, that’s a tell-tale sign that it’s gone bad.

7. How is molasses made?

Molasses is made by harvesting sugar cane or sugar beets, stripping them from leaves, and crushing them to collect the sweet, translucent juice that comes out. The juice is boiled, filtered from sugar, and reduced down into the thick and dark brown syrup as we know it.

Basically, molasses is the stuff that’s left after cane or beet sugar is boiled to make sugar.

8. Who sells molasses?

Molasses is carried by most grocery stores and hypermarkets, including Albertsons, Costco, Kroger, Publix, Target, Trader Joe’s, and Walmart. Most dollar stores, however, don’t have molasses in stock.

Our favorite brands of molasses include Grandma’s, Brer Rabbit Molasses, and Cortas.

9. Where can I find molasses in the grocery store?

You’ll find molasses by the sugar and corn syrup in the baking aisle in most grocery stores, so look there first. Other stores will place molasses jars by the maple syrup in the cereal aisle.

10. Why add molasses to bread?

Molasses adds a dark-brown color to loaves of bread and imparts them with a savory, slightly smoky flavor. It’s a little bitter and not as sweet as honey or maple syrup, making it appealing in all kinds of baked goods.

11. What molasses to use for baking?

Light molasses is best for baking since it has a mild and sweet taste that’s not as bitter as the taste of dark or blackstrap molasses. However, you may prefer dark or blackstrap molasses if you want a stronger flavor.

12. What molasses to use for cookies?

Dark molasses is best for cookies. It’s thick, sticky, has a more savory taste than light molasses but isn’t as bitter as blackstrap molasses, making it perfect for adding to cookie batters.

13. Which molasses has the most iron?

Some people eat molasses because it’s a source of dietary iron. Of all molasses varieties, blackstrap molasses (organic and unsulfured) has the highest amount of iron, followed by dark molasses and light molasses.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s FoodData Central, a serving of 1 tablespoon (20 g) of blackstrap molasses contains approximately 4% of the recommended daily iron intake.

100 g (3.5 oz) of blackstrap molasses contains 26% of the recommended daily iron intake. Other minerals and vitamins commonly found in molasses include Vitamin B-6, magnesium, and calcium.

14. What are the best substitutes for molasses?

Since molasses is a sweetener, it can be substituted for any other syrup or substance that’s high in carbohydrates and low in fat. Depending on the recipe and cooking method at hand, you may favor one substitute more than another.

As a general rule of thumb, 1 cup of molasses can be substituted for 1 cup dark corn syrup (simpler, milder), 1 cup maple syrup (sweeter, less smoky), 1 cup honey, or 3/4 cups brown sugar.

15. How many carbs are there in molasses?

On average, 1 tbsp (15 ml) of molasses contains 16 g of carbohydrates, of which 14 g are sugars. This means that every tablespoon of molasses gives you 5% of your recommended daily intake of sugar.

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