Molasses or treacle
is a thick syrup by-product from the processing of the
sugarcane or sugar beet into sugar. The word molasses
comes from the Portuguese word mela�o, which is in
turn the Greek "mellas" - honey.
The quality of molasses depends on the maturity of the
sugar cane or beet, the amount of sugar extracted, and the
method of extraction.
Sulphured molasses is
made from green, not yellow, sugar cane and is treated
with sulphur fumes during the sugar extraction process.
The sugar cane plant is harvested and stripped of its
leaves. Its juice is then extracted from the canes,
usually by crushing or mashing. The juice is boiled to
concentrate and promote the crystallization of the sugar.
The results of this first boiling and removal of sugar
crystal is first molasses, which has the highest
sugar content because comparatively little sugar has been
extracted from the juice.
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 gives blackstrap molasses. The majority
of sucrose from the original juice has been crystallized
but blackstrap molasses is still mostly sugar by calories,
but unlike refined sugars, it contains significant amounts
vitamins and minerals. Blackstrap molasses is a source of
calcium, magnesium, and iron. One tablespoon provides up
to 20 percent of the daily value of each of those
nutrients. Blackstrap is often sold as a health
supplement, as well as being used in the manufacture of
cattle feed, and for other industrial uses.
Sugar beet molasses
Molasses 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
containing significant amounts of glucose and fructose.
The non-sugar 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 or as a fermentation feedstock.
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 the following may be used (with varying
degrees of success): 1 cup honey, or 3/4 cup firmly packed
or 1 cup dark corn
syrup, or 1 cup pure maple syrup.