7 May 2018
Molasses is one of those forgotten products that are often found lurking at the back of our grandmother’s cupboard. It’s not used a great deal in recipes these days and not many people seem to know about its benefits.
Molasses is a by-product of the sugarcane refining process. In most cases, byproducts of refining processes are something you would discard, however, in this case, what’s left behind is the good stuff. When sugar cane is mashed and boiled, a type of syrup is created. A second boiling yields molasses and a third leaves blackstrap molasses, a more bitter tasting and nutrient dense syrup.
Whilst this is termed a refining process, it is merely just the boiling of the sugar cane, and nothing chemical is added to the boiling cane. Also, it’s important to note that refining often refers to removing beneficial parts of a substance, but in this case, the beneficial parts of the plant are retained and some sources would even consider it a superfood, high in Iron, B-vitamins, Magnesium and other nutrients.
Sweet Molasses: This is the product of the second boiling after more sugar has been extracted. It is less sweet than honey and is the molasses often used in cooking and baking. This would most probably be the type your grandmother used when she was baking.
Blackstrap Molasses: This is a much darker and bitter tasting syrup that is produced by the third boiling. It contains the most vitamins and nutrients, but due to its bitter taste does not work so well in many recipes. Blackstrap molasses is the highest in Iron, Manganese, Copper, Magnesium, Calcium and other nutrients and is the best option if you are choosing to use it for medicinal purposes or as a tonic.
Blackstrap molasses is one of the few great non-animal sources of iron. Many doctors and midwives recommend 1 to 2 tablespoons a day for those with anemia or related disorders. The high iron content and presence of minerals like magnesium make it helpful for menstrual troubles and pregnant women. There are many accounts of people who used molasses to help remedy anemia and also noticed improved skin and new hair growth from the additional minerals.
Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and manganese also make molasses beneficial for digestion. Some people who suffer from constipation notice relief from consuming 1 to 2 tablespoons of molasses in warm water each day. It is also a natural stool softener and is exceptionally beneficial after pregnancy to help return digestion to normal and boost iron levels.
Blackstrap molasses contains copper which is important for hair growth.
Low-Sugar Sweetener: Though blackstrap molasses isn’t exceptionally sweet, it can be a substitute for sugar or syrup in some recipes or can be added to baked goods to boost the nutritional profile. Be careful when using it so as to not make whatever you are adding it to, taste too bitter in the process.
Baking: Molasses is a key ingredient in gingerbread and a great way to sweeten baked goods like rye bread.
Marinades: A couple tablespoons of blackstrap is a great addition to any marinade and adds a tiny hint of sweetness and a warm flavour.
Dressings: In vinaigrettes and dressings, a tablespoon or two adds great flavour.
Sauces: A delicious addition to barbecue sauces and other homemade sauces.
Smoothies: A tablespoon or more doesn’t usually change the taste of smoothies and is a great way to add nutrients.
A final note: Make sure you choose molasses that does not contain Sulfur.