Not to be confused with molasse.
"Black treacle" redirects here. For the Arctic Monkeys song, see Black Treacle. For the 1951 novelty song, see Black Strap Molasses (song).
Blackstrap molasses

Molasses,[1] or black treacle (British, for human consumption; known as molasses otherwise), is a viscous by-product of refining sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar. Molasses varies by amount of sugar, method of extraction, and age of plant. Molasses is primarily used for sweetening and flavoring foods. It is a defining component of fine commercial brown sugar.[2]

Sweet sorghum syrup may be colloquially called "sorghum molasses" in the southern United States.[3][4][5][6] Similar products include treacle, honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, and invert syrup. Most of these alternative syrups have milder flavors.

Cane molasses

A bottle of molasses

Cane molasses is a common ingredient in baking and cooking.[7]

To make molasses, sugar cane is harvested and stripped of leaves. 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 U.S. as "cane syrup", as opposed to molasses. "Second molasses" is created from a second boiling and sugar extraction, and has a slight bitter taste.

Blackstrap molasses

The third boiling of the sugar syrup yields dark, viscous blackstrap molasses, known for its robust flavor.[8] The majority of sucrose from the original juice has been crystallized and removed. The calorific content of blackstrap molasses is mostly due to the small remaining sugar content.[9][10] Unlike highly refined sugars, it contains significant amounts of vitamin B6 and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese; one tablespoon provides up to 20% of the recommended daily value of each of those nutrients. Blackstrap is also a good source of potassium.[11] Blackstrap molasses has long been sold as a dietary supplement.

Blackstrap molasses is significantly more bitter than "regular" molasses. It is sometimes used in baking or for producing ethanol, as an ingredient in cattle feed, and as fertilizer.

The term "black-strap" or "blackstrap" is an Americanism dating from 1875 or before.[12] Its first known use is in a book by detective Allan Pinkerton in 1877.[13]

The exaggerated health benefits sometimes claimed for blackstrap molasses were the topic of a 1951 novelty song, "Black Strap Molasses", recorded by Groucho Marx, Jimmy Durante, Jane Wyman, and Danny Kaye.[14]

Sugar beet 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 is limited in biotin (vitamin H or B7) for cell growth; hence, it may be supplemented with a biotin source. The nonsugar content includes many salts, such as calcium, potassium, oxalate, and chloride. It contains betaine and the trisaccharide raffinose. These are a result of concentration from the original plant material or chemicals in processing, and make it unpalatable to humans. So, it is mainly used as an additive to animal feed (called "molassed sugar beet feed") or as a fermentation feedstock.

Extracting additional sugar from beet molasses is possible through molasses desugarization. This exploits industrial-scale chromatography to separate sucrose from nonsugar 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 U.S.[15] and parts of Europe. Molasses is also used for yeast production.

Unsulphured molasses

Many kinds of molasses on the market come branded as "unsulphured" (using the British spelling of sulfur). Many foods, including molasses, were treated with sulfur dioxide as a preservative, helping to kill off molds and bacteria. Sulfur dioxide is also used as a bleaching agent, and helped to lighten the color of molasses. Most brands have veered away from sulphured molasses, due to the relatively stable natural shelf life of untreated molasses, the off flavor that can arise from using sulfur dioxide, and because sulfur dioxide in high doses can be toxic.[16]

Other forms

Yomari: rice flour breads filled with chaku

In Middle Eastern cuisine, molasses is produced from carob, grapes, dates, pomegranates, and mulberries. In Nepal it is called chaku[17] (Nepal Bhasa: चाकु) and used in the preparation of Newari foods such as yomari.

Other uses

Food products and additives

Bhapa pitha, a popular BangladeshI-style rice cake, is often sweetened with molasses.

Molasses can be used:




Nutritional information

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,213 kJ (290 kcal)
74.73 g
Sugars 74.72 g
Dietary fiber 0 g
0.1 g
0 g
Thiamine (B1)

0.041 mg

Riboflavin (B2)

0.002 mg

Niacin (B3)

0.93 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)

0.804 mg

Vitamin B6

0.67 mg


13.3 mg


205 mg


4.72 mg


242 mg


1.53 mg


31 mg


1464 mg


37 mg


0.29 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Molasses contains no protein or dietary fibre and close to no fat. Each tablespoon (20 g) contains 58 kcal (240 kJ), 14.95 g of carbohydrates, including 14.94 g of sugar[20] divided between sucrose, glucose and fructose in rough proportions of 2:1:1.

Important minerals

Minerals in Meridian/Organic/Pure blackstrap - per 100 g (equivalent to 5 tablespoons):


The word comes from the Proto-Indo-European mélid. Cognates include Ancient Greek μέλι (méli) (honey), Latin mel, Spanish melaza (molasses), French miel (honey), and Portuguese melaço.[21]

See also


  1. "molasses Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary".
  2. The Codex Alimentarius Commission. (2009; 2010). Codex Alimentarius – 212.1 Scope and Description. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  3. Rapuano, Rina (September 12, 2012). "Sorghum Travels From The South To The Mainstream". Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  4. Bitzer, Morris (2002). "Sweet Sorghum for Syrup" (PDF). N.p.: University of Kentucky. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  5. Curtin, Leo V. "Molasses - General Considerations" (PDF). Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and University of Florida, n.d. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  6. "Ventilated" (PDF). Indiana State Department of Health - Division of Consumer Protection - Food Protection Program Guidance on Sorghum Production, March 19, 2008 (2008): 1-6. March 19, 2008. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  7. "Cooking with Molasses - Brer Rabbit Molasses Recipes - Easy Baking Recipes". Brer Rabbit.
  8. "Health Benefits of Blackstrap Molasses". Spiritfoods. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  9. "Blackstrap Molasses In-depth nutrient analysis". The World's Healthiest Foods. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  10. "Molasses, Blackstrap". Barry Farm Foods. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  11. "Molasses, blackstrap". NutritionData. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  12. "Local and Personal". The Cambria Freeman (1867-1938). Ebensburg, Pa. March 26, 1875. p. 3. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  13. Pinkerton, Allan (1877). The Molly Maguires and the Detectives, 1905 ed. New York: G. W. Dillingham Co. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
  14. Fleck, H.C. (1968). Toward Better Teaching of Home Economics. Macmillan. p. 195.
  15. "Chromatographic Separator Optimization" at Amalgamated Research Inc.
  16. T, Eric (October 8, 2012). "Why Does my Mollases say Unsulphured? Was Sulphur Removed From it?". Retrieved August 20, 2015.
  17. "Locals prepare molasses for festival in Nepal". Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  18. Heath, Arthur Henry (1893). A Manual on Lime and Cement, Their Treatment and Use in Construction. Mackaye Press. Retrieved 2015-10-24.
  19. "Bioactive materials for sustainable soil management" (PDF).
  20. "Basic Report: 19304, Molasses". USDA Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  21. "Molasses" at

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