The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Understanding Molasses

Click here for more info.By Susan M. Thigpen © 1999

Online: January, 1999

Do you know the difference between types of molasses? We often hear the term "blackstrap molasses," but what does that mean?

The quality of molasses depends on the maturity of the sugar cane, the amount of sugar extracted, and the method of extraction. There are three major types of molasses: unsulphured, sulphured and blackstrap.

Unsulphured molasses is the finest quality. It is made from the juice of sun-ripened cane and the juice is clarified and concentrated. Molasses from the first boiling is the finest grade because only a small amount of sugar has been removed.

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. The second boil molasses takes on a darker color, is less sweet and has a more pronounced flavor.

Blackstrap molasses is from the third boil and only has a commercial value in the manufacture of animal feed and other industrial uses.

Editor's Note: We received this e-mail:


You should do a little research before making comments like you do about blackstrap molasses. It is used within the health industry because it is natural and high in Iron and other minerals with a very little sugar. It is what is left when molasses is made. Many fine HUMAN products contain blackstrap molasses. You do the industry harm by saying that it is used for animal feed only....

It was from Ron

We stand corrected. We do realize that many people use blackstrap molasses for the concentrated iron content. It has a very strong flavor. It is usually available at health food stores. The main use for the majority of blackstrap molasses is in the manufacturing of commercial animal feed.