For most people, molasses comes to mind when making ginger cookies or gingerbread. But it is used for so much more than that… even making your own brown sugar.
This thick gooey syrup is a byproduct of the sugar-making process. It is made from what’s left over after sugar is made from sugar cane juice.
Molasses varies by amount of sugar and method of extraction, and age of plant.
Fancy Molasses: The highest grade of molasses available, fancy molasses is the pure juice of the sugar cane. Fancy molasses is an excellent topping on toast, pancakes or biscuits and is a great addition to marinades, rubs and sauces. It is a popular ingredient in baked goods, yielding softer cookies and crustier bread.
Cooking Molasses: is a blend of blackstrap and fancy molasses. It is thicker and darker than fancy molasses — less sweet, with a more “full-flavoured” taste. It is commonly used to flavour sweets and cookies like gingersnaps, and is also excellent in baked beans and a variety of sauces such as barbecue and sweet-and-sour sauce.
Blackstrap Molasses: is the highly-concentrated, final by-product of the refined sugar manufacturing process. By this point, there isn’t enough sucrose left to make it taste sweet, so it almost tastes bitter. The resulting molasses is very dark with a robust, somewhat bitter flavour. Blackstrap molasses is often used as a colouring agent in foods. Some prefer the more robust flavour of blackstrap molasses when preparing foods like baked beans or gingerbread.
Sulphured Molasses: is a category of Molasses that has been treated with sulphur dioxide to help preserve it — it prevents the growth of yeasts and moulds. If it is sulphured, it will say so on the label. Most Molasses sold to home consumers is unsulphured. Make sure that you’re using unsulphured if you’re putting it into a yeast-risen recipe, because the sulphur will kill the yeast and ruin your recipe.
According to Crosby’s:
Molasses is best kept at room temperature between 10°C to 21°C (50 – 70°F). The shelf life of molasses is generally 18 months when kept below 21°C and under reasonably steady conditions of temperature and humidity. Refrigeration or freezing may crystallize the natural sugars and therefore is not recommended.