Molasses is thick dark syrup that is a byproduct of sugar refining, and is the concentrated syrup leftover when sugar crystals are extracted. The darker the molasses is the more crystalline sugar has been removed. It most commonly made from sugar cane, grapes or beets. The most widely available molasses is sugar cane molasses because it is often used in baking. The quality of molasses depends on the maturity of the sugar cane or sugar beet, the amount of sugar extracted, and the method of extraction. Molasses can also be sulphured or unsulphured. Sulphur is added to sugar cane juice during production to act as a preservative.
This kills unwanted bacteria, and even to helps whiten the sugar crystals. Unsulphured molasses is a thick, dark sweetener that can be used in a wide range of recipes and foods. The way unsulphured molasses is processed changes the taste it has a more bittersweet flavor. It is mostly found in health food stores because it contains the most nutrients of the three types available. The three varieties of molasses are light, dark and blackstrap. When sugar cane is being processed into sugar, the juice from crushed or pressed sugar cane is boiled to prompt the crystallization process.
The liquid resulting from the first cooking of the sugar cane syrup is light molasses. It has pretty high sugar content and a fairly mild flavor. Dark molasses is the liquid resulting from the second boiling of the sugar cane juice. It is less sweet, quite a bit thicker and darker in color than light molasses. Dark molasses is sometimes called “robust molasses,” as well. Blackstrap molasses is the darkest, thickest and least sweet of the types of molasses and is the result of the third and final boiling of the sugar cane juice (http://bakingbites. com/2008/10/which-molasses-should-i-use/).
Blackstrap molasses contains trace amounts of vitamins and significant amounts of several minerals. It is a source of calcium, magnesium,potassium, and iron; one tablespoon provides up to 20% of the daily value of each of those nutrients(http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Molasses#Sugar_beet_molasses ). Molasses has a variety of culinary and non-culinary uses. In Austrialia, it is used in its fermented state for ethanol-based fuels. Molasses has also been used to increase microbial activity in soil (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Molasses#Sugar_beet_molasses).
Before white sugar was used, molasses was way food was sweetened. In baking, the most commonly used type of molasses is light molasses because dark molasses is usually too bitter. It is most commonly used to make ginger bread. Molasses is more acidic than other sugars, so it is used in any recipe when it is necessary to slow the softening of something. The processing of molasses began in India around 500 B. C. , but it was slow to move to the rest of the world. Molasses was involved in the infamous slave trade triangles of the late seventeenth century.
During the 1600s, traders started carrying slaves from Africa to the Caribbean, where people were sold for barrels of molasses. This triangular trade of rum, slaves and molasses was very profitable. The British Parliament tried to increase its share of the market with the Molasses Act, adding a tax to molasses imported to British colonies from the French West Indies. This tax, along with the tea tax and other British levies, led to American petitions, boycotts and ultimately revolution (http://www. madehow. com/Volume-5/Molasses. html#b).