Not to be confused with molasse.
"Black treacle" redirects here. For the Arctic Monkeys song, see Black Treacle.

Molasses (American vernacular), or black treacle (British, for human consumption; known as molasses otherwise), is a viscous by-product of the refining of sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar. The word comes from the Proto-Indo-European *mélid". Cognates include Ancient Greek μέλι (méli) (honey), Latin mel, Portuguese melaço.[1] Molasses varies by amount of sugar and method of extraction, and age of plant.

Sweet sorghum syrup may be colloquially called "sorghum molasses" in the American South.[2][3][4][5]

Cane molasses

File:Bottle of Molasses.jpg
A bottle of molasses

To make molasses, sugar cane is harvested and stripped of leaves. Often the fields of cane are set on fire to burn off the leaves and drive out the snakes that seem to enjoy this habitat. 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 US as "cane syrup", as opposed to molasses. Second molasses is created from a second boiling and sugar extraction, and has a slight bitter taste. The third boiling of the sugar syrup yields blackstrap molasses, known for its robust flavor.[6] The term blackstrap molasses is an Americanism dating from around 1875.[7] The majority of sucrose from the original juice has been crystallised and removed. The food energy of blackstrap molasses is mostly from the small remaining sugar content.[8] However, unlike refined sugars, it contains trace amounts of vitamins and significant amounts of several minerals. Blackstrap molasses has long been sold as a health supplement. It is used for producing ethyl alcohol for industry and as an ingredient in cattle feed. Blackstrap molasses is significantly more bitter than "regular" molasses.

Cane molasses is a common ingredient in baking and cooking.[9][where?]

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

It is possible to extract additional sugar from beet molasses through molasses desugarization. This exploits industrial-scale chromatography to separate sucrose from non-sugar 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 US.[10] and parts of Europe. Molasses is also used for yeast production.

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[11] (Nepal Bhasa: चाकु) and used in the preparation of Newari condiments such as yomari.

Other uses

Food products and additives

File:Bhapa Pitha Bangladeshi Style, 3 February, 2013.jpg
Bhapa Pitha, a popular Bangladeshi style rice cake, is often sweetened with molasses.

Molasses can be used as:

  • The principal ingredient in the distillation of rum
  • In beer styles such as stouts or porters
  • An additive in tobacco smoked in a hookah, shisha, or narghile (found in the brands Al Fakher Tobacco, Cedars Tobacco, Mazaya, Nakhla, Tangiers, Salloum and Hookafina Blak )
  • In dark rye breads
  • An additive in livestock feeds
  • An ingredient in fishing groundbait
  • A source for yeast production
  • An iron supplement
  • The main ingredient in the production of citric acid
  • In certain cookies
  • As a humectant in jerky processing



  • As a minor component of mortar for brickwork[13]
  • Mixed with glue to case ink rollers on early printing presses


  • As a soil additive to promote microbial activity[14]

Nutritional information

Molasses contains no protein or dietary fibre and close to no fat. Each tablespoon (20 g) contains Script error: No such module "convert"., 14.95 g of carbohydrates, including 11.1 g of sugar divided among:[15]

  • Sucrose: 5.88 g
  • Glucose: 2.38 g
  • Fructose: 2.56 g

Important minerals

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

  • Calcium: 400 mg (50% RDA)
  • Iron: 13 mg (95% RDA)
  • Magnesium: 300 mg (38% RDA)

See also


  1. ^ "Molasses" at
  2. ^ Rapuano, Rina (September 12, 2012). "Sorghum Travels From The South To The Mainstream". Retrieved May 22, 2014. 
  3. ^ Bitzer, Morris (2002). "Sweet Sorghum for Syrup" (PDF). N.p.: University of Kentucky. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  4. ^ Curtin, Leo V. "MOLASSES - GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS" (PDF). Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and University of Florida, n.d. Retrieved May 22, 2014. 
  5. ^ "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. 
  6. ^ "Health Benefits of Blackstrap Molasses". Spiritfoods. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Cambria freeman. (Ebensburg, Pa.) 1867-1938, March 26, 1875, Image 3". 
  8. ^ "Blackstrap Molasses In-depth nutrient analysis". The World's Healthiest Foods. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Cooking with Molasses - Brer Rabbit Molasses Recipes - Easy Baking Recipes". Brer Rabbit. 
  10. ^ "Chromatographic Separator Optimization" at Amalgamated Research Inc.
  11. ^ "Locals prepare molasses for festival in Nepal". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  12. ^ Heath, A. H. (30 July 2008). A Manual on Lime and Cement, Their Treatment and Use in Construction. Mackaye Press. 
  13. ^ Manual on Lime and Cement. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  14. ^ "Bioactive materials for sustainable soil management" (PDF). 
  15. ^ "Nutrient data for 19304, Molasses". USDA National Agricultural Library. Retrieved 17 April 2012. 

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