What's the Deal with Blackstrap Molasses?

As the star ingredient in cookies, cakes, and other holiday baking, molasses really gets its heyday this time of year! But not all kinds can be used interchangeably, particularly blackstrap molasses...Molasses is the dark, sticky syrup left behind after the sugar has been boiled out of cane and beet juices. This is done in several stages, which yield light, dark, and eventually blackstrap molasses as all the sugar is gradually extracted and the syrup is cooked down.

Blackstrap molasses has almost no remaining sucrose and is therefore intensely bitter. On the plus side, blackstrap molasses is high in nutrients like calcium and iron, and has long been used by the health food industry as a nutritional additive. Even before that, a tablespoon of straight blackstrap molasses was a cure-all for an upset stomach and a general system cleanser!

Use blackstrap molasses in your cooking with caution. While light and dark molasses can be used fairly interchangeably, blackstrap molasses can overpower your baking with off-putting flavors. Until you're familiar with it, look for recipes that specifically call for blackstrap molasses. Try this recipe for bittersweet granola!

We actually prefer blackstrap molasses in savory dishes, like baked beans and pulled pork. In these recipes, the smoky qualities of the molasses really come out and its bitterness is balanced by sweet flavors in the dish itself.

Does anyone have any experience with blackstrap molasses or suggestions for cooking with it?

Related: Food Science: How Sugar Cooks

(Image: Badagnani via Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons)

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