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Blackstrap molasses.
Molasses is a viscous byproduct of the processing of sugar cane or sugar beets into sugar. The word molasses comes from the Portuguese word melaço, which ultimately comes from mel, the Latin word for "honey". The quality of molasses depends on the maturity of the sugar cane or sugar beet, the amount of sugar extracted, and the method of extraction. Sweet sorghum syrup is known in some parts of the United Statesmarker as molasses, though it is not true molasses.

Cane molasses

Sulphured molasses is made from young sugar cane. Sulphur dioxide, which acts as a preservative, is added during the sugar extraction process. Unsulphured molasses is made from mature sugar cane, which does not require treatment with sulphur. There are three grades of molasses: mild, or first molasses; dark, or second molasses; and blackstrap. These grades may be sulphured or unsulphured.

To make molasses, the sugar cane plant is harvested and stripped of its leaves. Its juice is extracted from the canes, usually by crushing or mashing; it can also be removed by cutting. The juice is boiled to concentrate it, which promotes the crystallization of the sugar. The result of this first boiling and removal of the sugar crystals is first molasses, which has the highest sugar content because comparatively little sugar has been extracted from the source. Second molasses is created from a second boiling and sugar extraction, and has a slight bitter tinge to its taste.

The third boiling of the sugar syrup makes blackstrap molasses. The majority of sucrose from the original juice has been crystallized, but blackstrap molasses is still mostly sugar by calories. However, unlike refined sugars, it contains significant amounts of vitamins and minerals. Blackstrap molasses is a source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron; one tablespoon provides up to 20% of the daily value of each of those nutrients. Blackstrap, often sold as a health supplement, is also used in the manufacture of cattle feed and for other industrial uses.

Sugar beet molasses

A bottle of molasses.
Molasses that comes from the sugar beet is different from cane molasses. Only the syrup left from the final crystallization stage is called molasses; intermediate syrups are referred to as high green and low green, and these are recycled within the crystallization plant to maximize extraction. Beet molasses is about 50% sugar by dry weight, predominantly sucrose, but also contains significant amounts of glucose and fructose. Beet molasses is limited in biotin (Vitamin H or B7) for cell growth; hence, it may need to be supplemented with a biotin source. The nonsugar content includes many salts, such as calcium, potassium, oxalate, and chloride. These are either as a result of concentration from the original plant material or as a result of chemicals used in the processing. As such, it is unpalatable, and is mainly used as an additive to animal feed (called "molassed sugar beet feed") or as a fermentation feedstock.

It is possible to extract additional sugar from beet molasses through a process known as molasses desugarisation. This technique exploits industrial-scale chromatography to separate sucrose from nonsugar components. The technique is economically viable in trade-protected areas, where the price of sugar is supported above the world market price. As such, it is practiced in the U.S. and parts of Europe. Molasses is also used for yeast production.


Cane molasses is a common ingredient in baking, often used in baked goods such as gingerbread cookies. There are a number of substitutions that can be made for molasses. For a cup of molasses, one of the following may be used (with varying degrees of success): 1 cup of honey; ¾ cup of firmly packed brown sugar; 1 cup of dark corn syrup; 1 cup of granulated sugar with ¼ cup of water; or 1 cup of pure maple syrup.

Other forms

In the cuisines of the Middle East, molasses is produced from several other materials: carob, grapes, date, pomegranates, and mulberries.

Nonculinary uses

Because of its unusual properties, molasses has several uses beyond that of a straightforward food additive. It can be used as the base material for fermentation into rum, and as the carbon source for in situ remediation of chlorinated hydrocarbons. Also, it can be used as a minor component of mortar for brickwork.

It can be used as a chelating agent to remove rust were a rusted part stays a few weeks in a mixture of 1 part molasses and 10 parts water.

In Australia, molasses is fermented to produce ethanol for use as an alternative fuel in motor vehicles, and is also used to treat burns.

Molasses is added to some brands of tobacco used for smoking through a Middle Eastern water pipe (e.g., hookah, shisha, narghile, etc.). It is mixed into the tobacco along with glycerine and flavorings; sometimes it is used along with honey and other syrups or fully substituted by them. Brands that use molasses include Al Fakher, Soex and Tangiers.

Molasses is also used in fishing groundbait.

Molasses can also be added to the soil of almost every plant to promote microbial activity.

Blackstrap Molasses is often used in horticulture as a flower blooming and fruiting enhancer, particularly in organic hydroponics.Blackstrap Molasses may also be used as an iron supplement for those who can not tolerate the constipation associated with iron supplementation. Specifically for pregnant women, 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses may be taken twice daily to replace supplemental iron tablets.

Molasses is also used as an additive in livestock grains to increase the protein content.

See also


  1. "Molasses" at
  2. "Blackstrap Molasses In-Depth Nutrient Analysis" at World's Healthiest Foods
  3. "Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Blackstrap Molasses",
  4. "Blackstrap Molasses" at World's Healthiest Foods
  5. "Chromatographic Separator Optimization" at Amalgamated Research Inc.
  6. Manual on Lime and Cement
  7. "About CSR ethanol"

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