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Molasses (American vernacular), or black treacle (British, for human consumption; known as molasses otherwise), is a viscous by-product of the refining of sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar. The word comes from the Portuguese melaço, ultimately derived from mel, the Portuguese and Latin word for "honey". Molasses varies by amount of sugar and method of extraction, and age of plant.
To make molasses, sugar cane is harvested and stripped of leaves. Often the fields of cane are set on fire to burn off the leaves and drive out the snakes that seem to enjoy this habitat. 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 US as "cane syrup", as opposed to molasses. Second molasses is created from a second boiling and sugar extraction, and has a slight bitter taste. The third boiling of the sugar syrup yields blackstrap molasses, known for its robust flavor. The term blackstrap molasses is an Americanism dating from around 1875. The majority of sucrose from the original juice has been crystallised and removed. The food energy of blackstrap molasses is mostly from the small remaining sugar content. However, unlike refined sugars, it contains trace amounts of vitamins and significant amounts of several minerals. Blackstrap molasses has long been sold as a health supplement. It is used for producing ethyl alcohol for industry and as an ingredient in cattle feed. Blackstrap molasses is significantly more bitter than "regular" 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 are 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 as a result of concentration from the original plant material or chemicals in processing, and make it unpalatable to humans. Hence it is mainly used as an additive to animal feed (called "molassed sugar beet feed") or as a fermentation feedstock.
It is possible to extract additional sugar from beet molasses 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 US. and parts of Europe. Molasses is also used for yeast production.
In Middle Eastern cuisine, molasses is produced from carob, grapes, dates, pomegranates, and mulberries. In Nepal it is called chaku (Nepal Bhasa: चाकु) and used in the preparation of Newari condiments such as yomari.
Molasses can be used as:
Minerals in Meridian/Organic/Pure blackstrap - per 100 g (equivalent to 5 tablespoons):
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