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Ingredient Spotlight: Blackstrap Molasses, a Robust Syrup That is Rich in Iron and Calcium

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There are several different types of molasses out there. Apart from light and dark molasses, there is also beet molasses, pomegranate molasses, sorghum molasses, and others. But not all molasses was created equally and one, in particular, is a cut above the rest in terms of nutritional benefits: blackstrap molasses. This thick, bitter syrup has traditionally been used as a cure-all for upset stomachs, constipation, and anemia — and with good reason. Let’s learn a little more about the benefits of molasses and how we can put it to use in the kitchen.

What is Blackstrap Molasses?

shutterstock_469989542Jfanchin/Shutterstock

Simply put, blackstrap molasses is what is left at the end of the process of refining sugar cane into table sugar. This is done by boiling sugar cane until it crystalizes. Blackstrap molasses is what is left after the third boil and after all sugar crystals are removed. Today, the largest producers of molasses are India, Brazil, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, and the United States.

Compared to regular molasses, blackstrap molasses is denser and more viscous. It has a dark, opaque black-brown color and a very robust, bittersweet flavor. Unlike regular molasses, blackstrap molasses is not sweet — that is because most of the sugar content is removed during the cooking process.

When looking for blackstrap molasses, look for jars labeled “unsulphured.” Many people are sensitive to this additive and it is said that unsulphured blackstrap molasses has a cleaner taste. Store your jar in your refrigerator or in a cool, dark place like the back of a cabinet. An unopened jar should keep for up to a year, while an open jar should be good for about six months.

Nutritional Benefits

shutterstock_400288555neil langan/Shutterstock

Blackstrap molasses may be derived from cane sugar, but it has gained a lot of fame thanks to its fantastic nutritional profile. Blackstrap molasses is a good source of manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium. Just one tablespoon of blackstrap molasses provides 20 percent of your daily value of calcium. Its iron content is also exceptional, with 1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses containing 3.5 mg or over 19 percent of your daily value.

In terms of other benefits, studies have shown that low levels of vitamin B6, which is one of the key nutrients in blackstrap molasses, can lead to higher levels of stress. Blackstrap molasses can be a good way to up your B6 intake. Low iron is one of the most common deficiencies in the United States; adding blackstrap molasses can help with that was well.  Its high iron content may even beneficial to those who experience menstruation, PMS, and cramps. Blackstrap molasses also has a high antioxidant capacity, according to one study.

Mixing a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses in a glass of warm water or non-dairy milk is considered a good way to benefit from the nutrients that this sticky syrup offers. It may not taste good, but hey, it’s good for you.

Cooking With Blackstrap Molassesterikyaki

Not only is blackstrap molasses good for us, there are also several ways we can use it in the kitchen. Some say that blackstrap molasses can be substituted for liquid sweetener in baked goods, but its robust flavor might be off-putting to some. It’s also important to understand that there is a big difference between the flavors of blackstrap molasses and regular molasses — so don’t swap regular molasses for blackstrap in your baked goods, unless you really enjoy the flavor.

Where blackstrap molasses really shines in cooking is in savory foods. It has received a lot of praise in particular for the flavor that it adds dishes like pulled pork. For a plant-based version of pulled pork, try jackfruit. Try adding a small amount (about 1 teaspoon) of blackstrap molasses to the sauces in this Brown Sugar Barbecue Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich, this Fooled Pork Sandwich, these Carolina BBQ Jackfruit Sliders, and this Teriyaki Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich.

Blackstrap molasses adds robust flavor to these Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes made from textured vegetable protein and the patty in these Korean Kimchi BBQ Burgers. It can also be used in a marinade for tofu, as in this Blackstrap Tofu. Try using this same marinade for tempeh, seitan, or other plant-based meat substitutes.

Add some blackstrap molasses to these Easy, Healthy, Homemade Baked Beans or these Canadian Maple Baked Beans. It is also a surprising addition to this French Onion Soup.

For baked goods, blackstrap molasses is almost always paired with ginger. It’s the main sweetener in this Spicy Gingerbread Cake, these Triple Ginger Tahini Cookies, and these Carrot Gingerbread Muffins. It is also used to sweeten these Raw Almond Gingerbread Bites, these Salted Gingerbread Caramels, this Gingerbread Mousse, and this Gingerbread Ice Cream.

But, you can also use molasses to sweeten other baked goods, like these Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies, this Molasses Spelt Cake, and these Orange-Ginger Cupcakes.

Where to Buyblackstrap

 

Luckily, you don’t have to go very far to find blackstrap molasses in stores. You will typically find it in the baking aisle near the syrups and other sweeteners. But, you can also order it online. This Plantation Organic Unsulphured Blackstrap Molasses is perfect for all your molasses needs. One 15-ounce bottle costs about $16.

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Lead image source: neil langan/Shutterstock

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