Did you know that there are a lot of different types of molasses? In this article, we tackle two of them. And, explain the difference between molasses and blackstrap molasses.
If you bake or enjoy pastries and cookies, then you know the value of good molasses. This sweet substance gives many baked goods their wonderful flavor.
You’ve probably come across some of the different kinds of molasses the last time you were buying groceries. If you would want to know the difference between these two types and when to use one or the other, keep on reading.
Molasses vs. Blackstrap Molasses: What’s the Difference?
Molasses of all types come from the same processes.
This dark, viscous liquid is commonly made from sugar cane or beet. This is why it has a sweet taste. However, molasses can be made from other fruits and vegetables as well. Some of these include the likes of grapes or pomegranates.
How is Molasses Made?
To make molasses, sugar cane or beet is shredded and pressed. Doing so squeezes out the natural juice from the pulp. This juice is then boiled until it becomes thick and sugar crystals are formed.
Step 1: Light Molasses (First Molasses)
The crystals that are created from the boiling process are then centrifuged or spun around at very high speeds to separate liquid from solid portions. This process enables us to get the solid sugar extract.
What remains after this is what is called the first molasses type, or light molasses.
In essence, the molasses you see in stores go through a number of these processes. Each time, it changes the color, texture as well as the flavor profile. This is what differentiates one type from another.
Step 2: Dark Molasses
However, after this first processing, there is still plenty of sugar left in this light molasses. So as not to waste it, the product goes through further extraction by repeating the process of boiling and centrifuging.
What is left after this boiling is dark molasses. It is darker in color because of the heating of sugars. Since these are still in the viscous liquid form, the high temperature caramelizes the sugar. This results in a darker color. The change in color is similar to what happens when you cook sugar over the stove to produce caramel.
Step 3: Blackstrap Molasses
This boiling and centrifuging process is again repeated. And, what is left after this round of boiling is blackstrap molasses.
Sulfur is sometimes added to molasses all types as a preservative. And the addition of this compound impacts the flavor. This is why it is best to buy unsulphured molasses.
Adding sulfur dioxide does help improve the shelf life of the product. This is all great for the manufacturer. But for consumers, you’ll experience more of the chemical taste with sulphured molasses compared to unsulphured molasses.
Also sulphured molasses, due to the chemical changes and reactions is less sweet.
Difference Between Molasses and Blackstrap Molasses
So, the main difference between molasses and blackstrap molasses is that the latter is a result of the 3rd boiling. Meanwhile, regular molasses, which can be classified further into light and dark molasses are the 1st and 2nd boiling respectively.
So what does the boiling do?
Basically, the further down the boiling process you go, the more concentrated it becomes. It goes through more heat so there’s less liquid. Plus, it gets darker because it gets more ‘cooking time’ so to speak.
Another major difference is the more boiling it goes through the less sugar it will have.
So, light molasses has a much lighter color. But it offers a much milder and sweeter flavor compared to that of the darker forms. This makes light molasses ideal for baking and making sauces.
Dark molasses meanwhile, has a much stronger, less sweet flavor. But, it is used in much the same way as light molasses.
Blackstrap molasses on the other hand is not commonly used in baking. Although, certain recipes can work well with it. It is mainly used for animal feed as well as some savory dishes.
It has the darkest color among the three. It is also the thickest in consistency. However, it is the least sweet among the types of molasses. Because of all the boiling, blackstrap molasses does have a bitter flavor to it as well.
Because of the flavor difference, you should not substitute blackstrap molasses into any recipe that calls for molasses. It will mess up the flavor. Doing so between dark and light molasses can work because the sweetness and level of mildness is what changes. But you’ll still notice the difference.
Benefits of Blackstrap Molasses
The main advantage of blackstrap molasses is that the deep roots of beet and/or cane have drawn minerals from the soil and concentrated them in plant material.
This plant material has been further concentrated by boiling. And, the removal of a lot of the sugars from it through processing leaves us with a product which is highly nutritious and with a low glycemic index.
This makes it potentially useful for diabetics. Its properties make it an sweet alternative in place of sugar.
Additionally, unlike sugar, it isn’t empty in nutrients.
- Blackstrap molasses is high in iron. In fact, it is used as a treatment for anemia.
- It is also enriched in calcium and magnesium. This gives it the ability to promote strong bones and teeth. Plus, this thick substance also contains manganese and potassium. Both of which are good for our nerve cells.
- You also get vitamin B6 for skin.
- And copper, an anti-aging mineral.
- Then, there is its selenium content. Selenium is an antioxidant which protects the body from free radicals.
Adding Molasses to Your Meals
The strong taste of molasses can easily be diluted by adding it to other things.
For example, adding a couple of tablespoons of molasses to oats or muesli. Then, adding along some milk will only slightly impact the overall flavor of the dish.
Meanwhile, you can use it to ‘glue’ together granola bars. This gives you a quick and easy snack that has a sweet taste and nutrients.
You can also use it with coffee, tea or just hot water. It can be mixed with these beverages for easy consumption.
In cooking, molasses is often used as a meat marinade ingredient. This is the case in such marinade recipes as those for barbeque ribs.
And if the taste of dark or blackstrap molasses is too strong for you, then you can buy capsules to experience its goodness.
In addition to all this, blackstrap molasses is remarkably cheap. The reason being that it is historically a waste product that’s a result of the production of table sugar (which people buy more of).