Kinds of Molasses

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
First and second molasses have been used in foods for many years, and for a long time were the only form of sugar available to slaves and the poor of the rural South, usually bleached with sulfur dioxide and strongly sulfurous to the taste. Today, most molasses available to consumers are actually blends of molasses and syrups from various stages throughout the sugar-making process. They range from mild to pungent and bitter, from golden brown to brown-black. The darker the molasses, the more its sugars have been transformed by caramelization and browning reactions, and so the less sweet and more bitter it is. Light molasses may be 35% sucrose and 35% invert sugars, and 2% minerals; blackstrap molasses may be 35% sucrose, 20% invert sugars, and 10% minerals.