Molasses is made from sugar cane, sugar beet, and citrus. It is most commonly made from sugar cane.
There are three major types of sugar cane molasses: unsulphured, sulphured and blackstrap. There are also three major grades of cane molasses: first molasses, second molasses, and blackstrap molasses.
When sugar cane is harvested, the leaves are stripped, the juice extracted by crushing or mashing, and then boiled and processed to extract the sugar. The results of the first boiling and processing is first molasses – this has the highest sugar content. The results of the second boiling is second molasses. Second molasses is darker in colour and has a slightly bitter taste. Black strap molasses is from the third boiling.
Unsulphured molasses is the finest quality first molasses and is made from the juice of sun-ripened cane and the juice is clarified and concentrated. Sulphured molasses is made from green sugar cane that has not matured long enough and is treated with sulphur fumes during the sugar extracting process.
There are a number of different types and sources of molasses and some have already had the maximum amount of sugar removed and will therefore not be sweet. There are two main types of organic molasses: HTM (High Test Mollases) and Black Strap Molasses.
HTM is a sweet syrup with a high brix content of 80-84 percent. [Brix is a term originally used for pure sucrose solutions to indicate the percentage of sucrose in the solution on a weight basis. Molasses contains, glucose, fructose, raffinose and numerous non-sugar organic materials, as well as sucrose. Therefore the Brix value for molasses will often differ dramatically from actual sugar or total solid content. It really represents specific gravity.] The high-test molasses is a heavy, partially inverted cane syrup (no sugar removed), however molasses is a term generally used to designate material from which sugar has been removed.
Organic Blackstrap molasses has a rich, full bodied flavour that adds natural colour to food. It is the end product, or by-product, of the production of sugar and contains vitamins, minerals and trace elements naturally found in the sugar cane plant and is a good source of iron, vitamin B6, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Because it is an end-product all the ingredients, residues, and toxins in the plant can be concentrated in the molasses. For this reason it is important to purchase organic molasses.
For use as a sweetener, HTM molasses is recommended - blackstrap has a bitter taste.
Molasses is an excellent chelating agent. An object with iron rust placed for two weeks in a mixture of one part molasses to nine parts water will lose its rust due to the chelating action of the molasses.