Blackstrap molasses
Blackstrap molasses

Molasses (/məˈlæsɪz, m-/)[1] or black treacle (British English) is a viscous substance resulting from refining sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar. Molasses varies by the amount of sugar, method of extraction, and age of plant. Sugarcane molasses is primarily used for sweetening and flavoring foods in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere. Molasses is a defining component of fine commercial brown sugar.[2] It is also one of the primary ingredients used for distilling rum.[3]

Sweet sorghum syrup may be colloquially called "sorghum molasses" in the southern United States.[4][5] Molasses has a stronger flavor than most alternative syrups.


The word molasses comes from melaço in Portuguese,[6] a derivative (intensifier) of mel (honey)[7][8] with Latinate roots.[6] Cognates include Ancient Greek μέλι (méli) (honey), Latin mel, Spanish melaza (molasses), Romanian "miere" or "melasă", and French miel (honey).[citation needed]

Cane molasses

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A bottle of molasses
A bottle of molasses

Cane molasses is an ingredient used in baking and cooking.[9] It was popular in the Americas prior to the 20th century, when it was plentiful and commonly used as a sweetener in foods[10] and an ingredient for brewing beer during colonial times; even George Washington published a molasses beer recipe.[11]

To make molasses, sugar cane is harvested and stripped of leaves. Its juice is extracted, usually by cutting, crushing, or mashing. The juice is boiled to concentrate it, promoting sugar crystallization. The result of this first boiling is called first syrup ('A' Molasses), and it has the highest sugar content. First syrup is usually referred to in the Southern states of the United States as cane syrup, as opposed to molasses. Second molasses ('B' Molasses) is created from a second boiling and sugar extraction, and has a slightly bitter taste.

The third boiling of the sugar syrup yields dark, viscous blackstrap molasses ('C' Molasses), known for its robust flavor. The majority of sucrose from the original juice has crystallized and has been removed. The caloric content of blackstrap molasses is mostly due to the small remaining sugar content.

Unlike highly refined sugars, it contains significant amounts of vitamin B6 and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese; one tablespoon provides up to 20% of the recommended daily value of each of those nutrients. Blackstrap is also a good source of potassium.[12] Blackstrap molasses has long been sold as a dietary supplement.[citation needed]

Blackstrap molasses is significantly more bitter than "regular" molasses. It is sometimes used in baking or for producing ethanol, as an ingredient in cattle feed, and as fertilizer.

The exaggerated health benefits sometimes claimed for blackstrap molasses was the topic of a 1951 novelty song, "Black Strap Molasses", recorded by Groucho Marx, Jimmy Durante, Jane Wyman, and Danny Kaye.[13]

Sugar beet molasses

Molasses made from sugar beets differs from sugarcane molasses. Only the syrup left from the final crystallization stage is called molasses. Intermediate syrups are called high green and low green, and these are recycled within the crystallization plant to maximize extraction. Beet molasses is 50% sugar by dry weight, predominantly sucrose, but contains significant amounts of glucose and fructose. Beet molasses is limited in biotin (vitamin H or B7) for cell growth; hence, it may be supplemented with a biotin source. The non-sugar content includes many salts, such as calcium, potassium, oxalate, and chloride. It contains betaine and the trisaccharide raffinose. These are a result of concentration from the original plant material or chemicals in processing, and make it unpalatable to humans. So, it is mainly used as an additive to animal feed (called "molassed sugar beet feed") or as a fermentation feedstock.[citation needed]

Extracting additional sugar from beet molasses is possible through molasses desugarization. This exploits industrial-scale chromatography to separate sucrose from non-sugar components. The technique is economically viable in trade-protected areas, where the price of sugar is supported above market price. As such, it is practiced in the U.S.[14] and parts of Europe. Sugar beet molasses is widely consumed in Europe (for example Germany, where it is known as Zuckerrübensirup).[15] Molasses is also used for yeast production.[citation needed]

Fruit molasses

Pomegranate Molasses

Pomegranate molasses

Pomegranate molasses is a traditional ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking. It is made from pomegranate juice by adding sugar and lemon juice to it and simmering and reducing the mixture for about an hour until the syrupy consistency is achieved.[citation needed]

Grape Molasses

Cherry Molasses

Sour Plum Molasses

Unsulfured molasses

Many kinds of molasses on the market come branded as "unsulfured". Many foods, including molasses, were once treated with sulfur dioxide as a preservative, helping to kill off molds and bacteria. Sulfur dioxide is also used as a bleaching agent, as it helps lighten the color of molasses. Most brands have moved away from using sulfured molasses due to both the relatively stable natural shelf life of untreated molasses, and the 'off' flavor and trace toxicity of low doses of sulfur dioxide.[16]


Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy1,213 kJ (290 kcal)
74.73 g
Sugars74.72 g
Dietary fiber0 g
0.1 g
0 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.041 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.002 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.93 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.804 mg
Vitamin B6
0.67 mg
13.3 mg
205 mg
4.72 mg
242 mg
1.53 mg
31 mg
1464 mg
37 mg
0.29 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water21.9 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

Molasses is composed of 22% water, 75% carbohydrates, no protein and very small amounts (0.1%) of fat (table). In a 100 gram reference amount, molasses is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin B6 and several dietary minerals, including manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium (table).

The sugars in molasses are sucrose (29% of total carbohydrates), glucose (12%) and fructose (13%) (data from USDA nutrition table).

Other uses

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Food products and additives

Bhapa pitha, a popular Bangladeshi-style rice cake, is often sweetened with molasses.
Bhapa pitha, a popular Bangladeshi-style rice cake, is often sweetened with molasses.

Molasses can be used:



See also


  1. ^ Wells, John C. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0.
  2. ^ The Codex Alimentarius Commission. (2009; 2010). Codex Alimentarius – 212.1 Scope and Description. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  3. ^ "Rum | liquor". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  4. ^ Rapuano, Rina (September 12, 2012). "Sorghum Travels From The South To The Mainstream". Archived from the original on May 23, 2014. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  5. ^ Bitzer, Morris (2002). "Sweet Sorghum for Syrup" (PDF). N.p.: University of Kentucky. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 May 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Molasses". Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper, Inc. 2020. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  7. ^ melaçoDicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa
  8. ^ O uso de s, ss, c ou çCiberdúvidas
  9. ^ "Cooking with Molasses – Brer Rabbit Molasses Recipes – Easy Baking Recipes". Brer Rabbit. Archived from the original on 2014-04-24.
  10. ^ Hudson, Jeff (28 January 1998). "Molasses' Bittersweet History". SF Gate. Archived from the original on 2017-09-21. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  11. ^ Grasse, Steven (6 September 2016). "A brief history of colonial-era beer (including an awesome Stock Ale recipe)". Craft Brewing Business. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  12. ^ Tukua, Deborah. "These Health Benefits of Blackstrap Molasses May Surprise You". Farmers' Armanac.
  13. ^ Fleck, H. C. (1968). Toward Better Teaching of Home Economics. Macmillan. p. 195. ISBN 9780023382901. Archived from the original on 2017-12-06.
  14. ^ "Chromatographic Separator Optimization" Archived 2006-08-26 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Zuckerrübensirup Translation". Dict.Cc English-German Dictionary. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  16. ^ T, Eric (October 8, 2012). "Why Does my Molasses say Unsulphured? Was Sulphur Removed From it?". Culinary Lore. Archived from the original on September 18, 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  17. ^ "Make-Ahead Vinaigrette". Cook's Illustrated. Archived from the original on 2017-09-21. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  18. ^ Chaouachi, K (2009). "Hookah (Shisha, Narghile) Smoking and Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS). A Critical Review of the Relevant Literature and the Public Health Consequences". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 6 (2): 798–843. doi:10.3390/ijerph6020798. PMC 2672364. PMID 19440416. Mixing tobacco with molasses is a very ancient habit. A WHO report dates back "the addition of molasses to burley tobacco in the nineteenth century to create 'American' blended tobacco". [E]arly health-oriented anthropological research on hookah smoking showed that it [...] can be traced back [to] the 17th century.
  19. ^ White, Katie (17 July 2017). "The Hidden Chemicals in Hookah Tobacco Smoke". San Diego State University. Retrieved 10 March 2021. Hookah users inhale smoke, which is generated by heating hookah tobacco that is fermented with molasses and fruits and combined with burning charcoal.
  20. ^ Heath, Arthur Henry (1893). A Manual on Lime and Cement, Their Treatment and Use in Construction. Mackaye Press. Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  21. ^ Rosskopf, Erin; Di Gioia, Francesco; Hong, Jason C.; Pisani, Cristina; Kokalis-Burelle, Nancy (2020-08-25). "Organic Amendments for Pathogen and Nematode Control". Annual Review of Phytopathology. Annual Reviews. 58 (1): 277–311. doi:10.1146/annurev-phyto-080516-035608. ISSN 0066-4286.
  22. ^ "Bioactive materials for sustainable soil management" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-02-27.