We all have heard of molasses. It makes delicious baked beans or gingerbread or cookies. We use it on holidays or for breakfast to sweeten our hot cereal. In the past molasses was a regular sweetener eaten almost daily by many. It is also used in the production of rum.
Molasses dates back to 500 B.C.E. in India. Molasses played a role in the slave trade in America where people were traded for molasses. At one time molasses was the most popular sweetener in the U.S. That changed after World War I when refined sugar became cheaper than molasses.
There are several kinds of molasses. The result of the first boiling is light molasses. Dark molasses comes from the second boiling. The result of the third boiling is called blackstrap molasses. It is very dark and thick and one use for it is the manufacture of livestock feed. In some cultures molasses is combined with tobacco to create massel which is used by water pipe smokers.
Molasses is a by-product of the sugar manufacturing process. The sugar cane or beet juice is boiled until it becomes a thick syrup. The sugar crystals are extracted and what remains is a thick syrup that is colored brown. The color can vary from light brown to dark brown. Molasses can come from several sources; sugar cane, sorghum, carob, dates and pomegranate. Molasses can be sulphured and unsulphured. Sulphered molasses is made with sulphur dioxide to preserve it. This can leave a chemical flavor. Most molasses is unsulphured.
Sugar is not known for being high in nutrition. Molasses scores better. Molasses has vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, Vitamin B6 and calcium.
Here’s a recipe for Quick Molasses Bread.
Oil or butter to grease pan
1 2/3 C buttermilk
2 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 C cornmeal
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1/2 cup molasses
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees, Grease 8 x 4 or 9 x 5 loaf pan. Mix dry ingredients. Stir molasses into buttermilk. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake till firm, 45 minutes to an hour. Cool in pan for 15 minutes then invert onto wire rack. Bread tastes better after sitting for a day. Bread can be frozen.