When sugar cane and sugar beets are being refined to make processed sugar, they are boiled down to a syrupy mixture from which the sugar crystals are taken. The left over liquid is molasses. After the first boiling, light molasses is left; after the second, dark molasses is left; and after the third boiling, blackstrap molasses remains.
Because molasses does not exude pollutants when burnt, it is an ideal binding material. Coal briquettes are sometimes bound with molasses. When added to cement, molasses can delay its setting by 12 to 24 hours, allowing longer storage time. It's also used as a sand glue for casting moulds.
The thick, syrupy texture of molasses; its dark colour; and rich, bittersweet flavour enhance foods like baked beans, gingerbread and bran muffins. It is used as a flavouring and colouring agent in sauces and in speciality sweets. Some incorporate it into compost and use it as an activator for mushrooms. Others use it in cattle feed.
Commonly thought to be much more nutritious than the other types of molasses, blackstrap molasses contains only a small fraction more iron, calcium and phosphorus than the other molasses types. The nutritional value of all molasses types far outweighs that of cane sugar, to which it is usually compared. Those who consume molasses benefit from its calcium, iron, copper, potassium and magnesium.
Eating molasses can increase your energy by helping to restore iron. Menstruating and pregnant women, who need more iron, can especially benefit from eating foods high in iron like molasses. Two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses provide 13.3 per cent of the daily recommended value for iron.
Molasses can be used as an energy source during fermentation processes to grow yeasts, moulds and bacteria. For example, its biotin content is ideal for growth in bakers and brewers yeast. Its B vitamins help the fermentation process during the production of alcohol used in beverages, cosmetics and solvents.