Molasses, Fancy or Blackstrap: What’s The Difference?

This week’s Foodie’s Ask question is from Tanya Spruyt who asks:

Could someone explain the difference between certain molasses? I have blackstrap molasses for a special recipe. Other recipes I would like to try call for unsulfured molasses or blackstrap molasses. What is the difference? Can I use blackstrap in their place? Please help me.

Here is the skinny on molasses:

Molasses is a product made from cane juice, the same plant used to make refined sugar. There are a number of grades of molasses based on what stage of production the molasses has been made from. Fancy molasses is made from the pure cane juice that has been condensed and purified. Blackstrap molasses is made after the sugar crystals have been extracted from the cane syrup, the thick dark remaining liquid left is the molasses. Blackstrap molasses is more bitter than fancy molasses because a lot of the sugar has been removed from the original juice, while fancy molasses retains the sugar so it is sweeter. Because the juice has been condensed and a large mass of sugar has been removed, the resulting molasses is high in iron, minerals and vitamins that are lost to the other refined sugars made from the cane juice. You may also find something called cooking molasses which is a blend of fancy and blackstrap.

Most baked goods call for fancy molasses in the recipe. If you substitute cooking or blackstrap molasses, be prepared for a much more intense and slightly bitter flavour and a darker colour.

Sulfur is sometimes added to molasses as a preservative. Sulfured molasses will not react well in baked products containing yeast, the sulfur kills the yeast. Unsulfured molasses also has a better flavour, read the ingredient label to verify if sulfur has been added.

That should clear up the molasses issue. Feel free to ask me your questions and I will post an answer for you here in the Foodie-file.

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Posted in Foodie's Ask, The Foodie-file, Tue, 13/01/09

5 Responses

  • Colleen says:

    I used to look after a horse who would break out of his stall, find the bucket of molasses (a great source of minerals for horses) and dip his nose in for a tasty treat. Every morning at breakfast I had to spend 10 minutes washing the dried molasses off his whiskers.

    I love molasses in cookies. I used to eat molasses-peanut butter sandwiches as a kid. Delicious!

  • What a great question to have answered… I have always wondered what the difference are. Also, I had no idea that the Molasses with sulfer in them affected the yeast… VERY INTERESTING…

  • Mandy says:

    Thank you for this very helpful explanation. Just the information I was looking for!

  • venu says:

    what is the percentage of sugar in black strap molasses?