Formed as a byproduct of sugar production, blackstrap molasses is a thick, syrupy sweetener with a strong flavor. Of all the available types of molasses, it is the darkest, most strongly flavored and the most nutritious. Though some people do not care for the strong flavor, it is becoming more popular as a sugar substitute because of its high nutritional content.
Origin of Blackstrap Molasses
When sugar is refined from sugar can or sugar beets, it goes through a complex extraction process. This process involves boiling the cane or beats to remove the sugar crystals. After the first boiling, a lighter syrup is left behind, referred to as mild or Barbados molasses. After the second boiling, the syrup becomes stronger, and after the crystals are removed, the product left behind is dark molasses, also called second molasses. The third boiling, in which the syrup is boiled down even farther to extract the last sugar crystals, produces blackstrap molasses. In the UK, the same type of syrup is referred to as treacle.
Blackstrap molasses contains numerous nutrients, including:
In fact, blackstrap molasses contains such high concentrations of iron that it is often recommended to prevent iron deficiencies in pregnant or menstruating women or young children. When taken as a supplement, it is often combined with a source of vitamin C, since the calcium in the molasses can reduce the iron absorption. Only two teaspoons of molasses a day can provide over ten percent of the necessary daily allowance of these minerals, which most people do not receive enough of in their everyday diet.
Using blackstrap molasses instead of sugar increases the nutritional value of the final product. White sugar, because it is so refined, carries little or no nutritional value. Even lighter forms of molasses, or unrefined sugar that retains some of the molasses that would normally be processed out, contain more nutrients than processed white sugar. Using blackstrap molasses ensures a much higher nutritional profile.
In general, molasses can be substituted for sugar at the ratio of about one-half to one-third of a cup of molasses to a full cup of sugar. In some recipes, the darker, more intense flavor of the blackstrap molasses might overcome more delicate flavors. Experimentation can help you determine the best ratios for individual recipes. Molasses is traditionally used in baked beans and gingerbread, so any recipes of a similar nature will respond well to a substitution of molasses.
Blackstrap molasses can also be easily added to coffee, strong teas or even milk. Adding molasses. milk and ginger to coffee is a quick way to reproduce popular gingerbread-flavored coffee drinks. Added to milk, it makes a uniquely flavored sweet drink. It can also be drizzled on breakfast cereal or used as a basis for marinades for chicken or other meats.
Blackstrap molasses as a sugar substitute might take some getting used to, but with experimentation, you will find numerous ways to add it to your everyday diet. Replacing refined white sugar with this much healthier alternative will supply you with many needed nutrients, and help increase your overall health.