Molasses in Cooking

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
The flavor of cane molasses is complex, with woody and green notes as well as sweet, caramel, buttery ones. Its complexity has made it a popular background flavor in many foods; popcorn balls, gingerbread, licorice, barbeque sauces, and baked beans are examples. Cane molasses is usually but unpredictably acidic; its pH varies between 5 and neutral 7, so it can sometimes react with baking soda and produce leavening carbon dioxide in baked goods. Thanks to its invert sugars, it helps retain moisture in foods. And a variety of components contribute to a general antioxidant capacity, which helps slow the development of off-flavors.