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Rich Sweet Molasses
For many of us, the sweet, rich taste of molasses evokes images of comfort and home: Warm gingerbread cookies, shoo-fly pie, or bubbling baked beans. One cannot discount the very distinctive taste of molasses.
Despite the fact that molasses is very “today,” its American history dates back to 1493 when Columbus introduced it to the West Indies. Molasses became an important product in Colonial trade. It was the major sweetener used in America until after World War I because it was less expensive than sugar. The word molasses comes from meli, the Greek word for “honey”.
Molasses has been said to help cure cancerous tumors, fibroid tumors, anxiety, constipation, edema, heart palpitations, anemia, arthritic pain, joint pain, and acne, just to name a few. It has also been reported that molasses turns gray hair back to its original color and is a wonderful skin softener!
Cooking with Molasses
Molasses has a long history in American cooking. In fact, this staple was once so prized that the founders of the colony of Georgia offered 64 quarts of it to every person who survived a year there.
Baking was the most popular way to prepare food in the Colonies, so molasses became associated with many baked goods: Doughnuts, mince pies, pumpkin pies, toffee, ginger bread, baked beans, sauces, corn bread, fruitcake, molasses bars, countless cookies, and cakes.
Maine children poured it over buttered bread for Sunday night supper, while molasses formed the base under the crumb topping of Pennsylvania Dutch shoofly pie.
Back in England, any candy made of molasses was called toffee, which evolved into taffy in the Colonies, and a great Saturday night activity was a taffy pull.
Molasses bars became a popular snack in the South; they are spicy (commonly spiced with nutmeg, cloves, ginger and/or cinnamon) and sweet. They were, in fact, so popular we now have a “day” for them. National Molasses Bar Day is February 8th.
Molasses is created during the refining of sugar cane, when juice is squeezed from the cane and boiled to a thick syrup. The first boiling produces mild light molasses. Dark molasses comes from the second boiling and is traditionally used in baking or for creating rich marinades. A third boiling creates blackstrap molasses – the bitter dregs of the barrel.
The Good in Molasses
Blackstrap molasses is higher in nutrients than other types of molasses. It is high in iron, calcium and potassium.
This food is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin B6 and Potassium, and a very good source of Magnesium.
The Bad in Molasses
A large portion of the calories in this food come from sugars, but the sugars are all natural and natural is always best (as opposed to refined or artificial).
Black Strap Molasses: This lesser known healthy remedy contains tons of nutrients including iron, calcium, and copper. It is said to help with everything from arthritis to going prematurely gray.
Traditionally, 1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses, first thing in the morning, was the common antidote for ailments. However, a site visitor has shared a “concoction”, if you will, that we find is much more pleasant! Here is the recipe:
Iced Molasses Recipe
- 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
- Hot water
- 3/4 cup milk or soy milk
Combine the hot water and milk; stir in molasses. Add ice – enjoy!
Molasses Ant Traps
Give those tiny intruders a fatal but non-chemical case of indigestion.
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 6 tablespoons active dry yeast
Stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl until they form a smooth paste. Coat strips of cardboard with the mixture or pour it in individual bottle caps, then place in and around infested areas.
Did you know?
Grandma’s Molasses is the number-one brand of molasses in the United States.
- Americans used molasses, which was less expensive than sugar, as their principal sweeetener until after World War I, when sugar prices plummeted.
- The founders of the colony of Georgia gave sixty-four quarts of molasses to each man, woman and child who had settled in Georgia for one year.
- Rum is fermented principally from molasses. Before the Revolutionary War, the average American colonist drank four gallons of rum a year.
- With the molasses act of 1733, the British imposed a heavy tax on sugar and molasses imported into the American colonies from parts of the West Indies not under British control. The widespread evasion of this tariff prompted the British to repeal the act in 1764.
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