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Blackstrap molasses Blackstrapmolasses.JPG
Blackstrap molasses

Molasses (American English) or black treacle (British English) is a viscous product resulting from refining sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar. Molasses varies by 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. Sugar beet molasses is foul-smelling and unpalatable, so it is mostly used as an animal feed additive in Europe and Russia, where it is chiefly produced. Molasses is a defining component of fine commercial brown sugar. [1]

American English set of dialects of the English language spoken in the US

American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States.

Treacle any uncrystallized syrup made during the refining of sugar

Treacle is any uncrystallised syrup made during the refining of sugar. The most common forms of treacle are golden syrup, a pale variety, and a darker variety known as black treacle. Black treacle, or molasses, has a distinctively strong, slightly bitter flavour, and a richer colour than golden syrup. Golden syrup treacle is a common sweetener and condiment in British cookery, found in such dishes as treacle tart and treacle sponge pudding.

British English is the standard dialect of English language as spoken and written in the United Kingdom. Variations exist in formal, written English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective wee is almost exclusively used in parts of Scotland and Ireland, and occasionally Yorkshire, whereas little is predominant elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is a meaningful degree of uniformity in written English within the United Kingdom, and this could be described by the term British English. The forms of spoken English, however, vary considerably more than in most other areas of the world where English is spoken, so a uniform concept of British English is more difficult to apply to the spoken language. According to Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English, British English shares "all the ambiguities and tensions in the word 'British' and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity".


Sweet sorghum syrup may be colloquially called "sorghum molasses" in the southern United States. [2] [3] Similar products include honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, and invert syrup. Most of these alternative syrups have milder flavors.

Sweet sorghum

Sweet sorghum is any of the many varieties of the sorghum grass whose stalks have a high sugar content. Sweet sorghum thrives better under drier and warmer conditions than many other crops and is grown primarily for forage, silage, and syrup production. Although, in most of the United States the term molasses refers to a sweet syrup, made as a byproduct of sugarcane or sugar beet sugar extraction, sweet sorghum syrup is known as "sorghum molasses" in some regions of the U.S.

Honey Sweet food made by bees mostly using nectar from flowers

Honey is a sweet, viscous food substance produced by bees and some related insects. Bees produce honey from the sugary secretions of plants or from secretions of other insects, by regurgitation, enzymatic activity, and water evaporation. Bees store honey in wax structures called honeycombs. The variety of honey produced by honey bees is the best-known, due to its worldwide commercial production and human consumption. Honey is collected from wild bee colonies, or from hives of domesticated bees, a practice known as beekeeping.

Maple syrup syrup usually made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple, or black maple trees

Maple syrup is a syrup usually made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple, or black maple trees, although it can also be made from other maple species. In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before winter; the starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in late winter and early spring. Maple trees are tapped by drilling holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded sap, which is processed by heating to evaporate much of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup.


The word comes from the Portuguese melaço. Cognates include Ancient Greek μέλι (méli) (honey), Latin mel, Spanish melaza (molasses), and French miel (honey). [4] [5]

Cane molasses

A bottle of molasses Bottle of Molasses.jpg
A bottle of molasses

Cane molasses is an ingredient used in baking and cooking. [6] It was popular in the Americas prior to the 20th century, when it used to be a common sweetener. [7]

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, 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 is created from a second boiling and sugar extraction, and has a slightly bitter taste.


Crystallization is the process by which a solid forms, where the atoms or molecules are highly organized into a structure known as a crystal. Some of the ways by which crystals form are precipitating from a solution, freezing, or more rarely deposition directly from a gas. Attributes of the resulting crystal depend largely on factors such as temperature, air pressure, and in the case of liquid crystals, time of fluid evaporation.

Southern United States Cultural region of the United States

The southern United States, also known as the American South, Dixie, Dixieland, or simply the South, is a region of the United States of America. It is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the western United States, with the midwestern United States and northeastern United States to its north and the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico to its south.

Blackstrap molasses

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

Viscosity physical property of a fluid

The viscosity of a fluid is a measure of its resistance to gradual deformation by shear stress or tensile stress. For liquids, it corresponds to the informal concept of "thickness": for example, syrup has a higher viscosity than water.

Sucrose chemical compound

Sucrose is common table sugar. It is a disaccharide, a molecule composed of two monosaccharides: glucose and fructose. Sucrose is produced naturally in plants, from which table sugar is refined. It has the molecular formula C12H22O11.

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. [8] Blackstrap molasses has long been sold as a dietary supplement.

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

The term "black-strap" or "blackstrap" is an Americanism dating from 1875 or before. [9] Its first known use is in a book by detective Allan Pinkerton in 1877. [10]

The exaggerated health benefits sometimes claimed for blackstrap molasses were the topic of a 1951 novelty song, "Black Strap Molasses", recorded by Groucho Marx, Jimmy Durante, Jane Wyman, and Danny Kaye. [11]

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 nonsugar 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.

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. [12] and parts of Europe. Molasses is also used for yeast production.

Unsulphured molasses

Many kinds of molasses on the market come branded as "unsulphured". 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, and helped to lighten the color of molasses. Most brands have moved away from using sulphured molasses, due to the relatively stable natural shelf life of untreated molasses and the off flavor and trace toxicity of low doses of sulfur dioxide. [13]

Other forms

Yomari: rice flour breads filled with chaku Yomari.jpg
Yomari: rice flour breads filled with chaku

In Middle Eastern cuisine, molasses is produced from carob, grapes, dates, pomegranates, and mulberries. In Nepal it is called chaku [14] used in the preparation of Newari foods such as yomari .

Other uses

Food products and additives

Bhapa pitha, a popular Bangladeshi-style rice cake, is often sweetened with molasses. Bhapa Pitha Bangladeshi Style, 3 February, 2013.jpg
Bhapa pitha, a popular Bangladeshi-style rice cake, is often sweetened with molasses.

Molasses can be used:




Nutritional information

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,213 kJ (290 kcal)
74.73 g
Sugars 74.72 g
Dietary fiber 0 g
0.1 g
0 g
Vitamins Quantity%DV
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
Minerals Quantity%DV
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 Nutrient Database

Molasses is composed of 22% water, 75% carbohydrates, and no protein or 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).

See also

Related Research Articles

Sugar generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates

Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. The various types of sugar are derived from different sources. Simple sugars are called monosaccharides and include glucose, fructose, and galactose. "Table sugar" or "granulated sugar" refers to sucrose, a disaccharide of glucose and fructose. In the body, sucrose is hydrolysed into fructose and glucose.

Sugar beet Plant grown commercially for sugar production

A sugar beet is a plant whose root contains a high concentration of sucrose and which is grown commercially for sugar production. In plant breeding it is known as the Altissima cultivar group of the common beet. Together with other beet cultivars, such as beetroot and chard, it belongs to the subspecies Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris. Its closest wild relative is the sea beet.

Syrup thick, viscous liquid consisting primarily of a solution of sugar in water

In cooking, a syrup or sirup is a condiment that is a thick, viscous liquid consisting primarily of a solution of sugar in water, containing a large amount of dissolved sugars but showing little tendency to deposit crystals. Its consistency is similar to that of molasses. The viscosity arises from the multiple hydrogen bonds between the dissolved sugar, which has many hydroxyl (OH) groups, anSyrup can be made by dissolving sugar in water or by reducing naturally sweet juices such as cane

A refinery is a production facility composed of a group of chemical engineering unit processes and unit operations refining certain materials or converting raw material into products of value.

Brown sugar sucrose sugar product with a distinctive brown colour

Brown sugar is a sucrose sugar product with a distinctive brown color due to the presence of molasses. It is either an unrefined or partially refined soft sugar consisting of sugar crystals with some residual molasses content, or it is produced by the addition of molasses to refined white sugar.

White sugar Refined sugar

White sugar, also called table sugar, granulated sugar or regular sugar, is the sugar commonly used in North America and Europe, made either of beet sugar or cane sugar, which has undergone a refining process.

Carbonatation is a chemical reaction in which calcium hydroxide reacts with carbon dioxide and forms insoluble calcium carbonate:

Sugar refinery

A sugar refinery is a refinery which processes raw sugar into white refined sugar or that processes sugar beet to refined sugar.

Golden syrup

Golden syrup or light treacle is a thick amber-coloured form of inverted sugar syrup made in the process of refining sugar cane or sugar beet juice into sugar, or by treatment of a sugar solution with acid. It is used in a variety of baking recipes and desserts. It has an appearance similar to honey and is often used as a substitute where honey is unavailable or prohibitively expensive. Many vegans also use it as a honey substitute.

An anticaking agent is an additive placed in powdered or granulated materials, such as table salt or confectionaries to prevent the formation of lumps (caking) and for easing packaging, transport, and consumption.

Potassium bisulfite chemical compound

Potassium hydrogen sulfite or potassium bisulfite is a chemical compound with the chemical formula KHSO3. It is used during the production of alcoholic beverages as a sterilising agent. This additive is classified as E number E228 under the current EU approved food additive.

Sugarcane group of cultivated plants

Sugarcane, or sugar cane, are several species of tall perennial true grasses of the genus Saccharum, tribe Andropogoneae, native to the warm temperate to tropical regions of South, Southeast Asia, and New Guinea, and used for sugar production. It has stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in the sugar sucrose, which accumulates in the stalk internodes. The plant is two to six metres tall. All sugar cane species can interbreed and the major commercial cultivars are complex hybrids. Sugarcane belongs to the grass family Poaceae, an economically important seed plant family that includes maize, wheat, rice, and sorghum, and many forage crops.

Sugarcane mill sugar mill

A sugar cane mill is a sugar refinery that processes sugar cane to produce raw or white sugar.

Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida is a vertically integrated agricultural enterprise that harvests, transports and processes sugarcane grown primarily in Palm Beach County, Florida and markets the raw sugar and blackstrap molasses through the Florida Sugar and Molasses Exchange. The Cooperative is made up of 45 grower-owners who produce sugarcane on approximately 70,000 acres of some of the most fertile farmland in America, located in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). Sugarcane grown by Cooperative members is harvested, transported and processed. The raw sugar is then marketed to one of the ASR Group's sugar refineries. The Cooperative produces more than 350,000 tons of raw sugar annually.

Non-centrifugal cane sugar (NCS) is the technical name given to traditional raw sugar obtained by evaporating water from sugarcane juice. NCS is internationally recognized as a discrete and unique product by the FAO since 1964 and by the World Customs Organization (WCO) since 2007. WCO defines NCS as "cane sugar obtained without centrifugation". It also states that "the product contains only natural anhedral microcrystals, of irregular shape, not visible to the naked eye, which are surrounded by residues of molasses and other constituents of sugar cane". NCS is produced in most sugarcane growing regions of the world, being known by many different names such as panela, jaggery, gur or muscovado.


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