Molasses is a byproduct of sugar manufacture. The two main sources are sugar cane and sugar beet.

It is a dark brown syrup, very thick and viscous, with a strong flavor. It is what is left over after the sugar is extracted.

There are different grades and types. All are sweet and contain sucrose and other sugars in smaller quantities. 

A typical breakdown would be:

Nutrient Percentage
Sucrose 30%
Water 22%
Other Carbs 20%
Fructose 13%
Glucose 12%
Ash 3%

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23 (2010)

It is a by product of sugar production and was once considered a waste product and unfit for human consumption. This still applies to beet molasses which is only used as cattle feed. However, in the case of sugar cane the plants have deep roots, and are able to absorb high quantities of nutrient from the soil. Consequently , the molasses is very rich in minerals and vitamins, and is a good source of iron for people who are anaemic. As a sweetener it is of limited value. It can be used in certain recipes, but cannot be used as a general sweetener due to it's strong taste.

Depending on the grade and source, they can be quite pure and healthy in moderation. The better grades such as unsulfered Blackstrap Molasses are high in minerals and B vitamins. In particular they are a rich source of Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Copper, Zinc and Potassium.

Like sugar, it is harmful to teeth and calorie rich. All types of molasses have a high glycemic index and are unsuitable for diabetics. Some grades are sulfered, meaning sulfer dioxide is added as a preservative.

In addition some grades can contain up to 20% free fructose, and this is in addition to the sucrose content. Therefore they should be counted as part of the refined sugar in the diet and taken in moderation. (As should fruit juices and honey).

Although often sold in health food shops it is really a form of refined sugar, it does not exist in nature. It contains no fiber, is almost pure carbohydrate and is high glycemic. Moderation is the key word, a spoon or two per day substituting for other refined sugars.

The juice or pulp is extracted from the sugar cane or beet. The juice is concentrated and the sucrose extracted. The brown substance left behind is called molasses.

Sold As:
Molasses, Blackstrap Molasses.

Interesting facts:
Beet Molasses is usually used as a cattle feed, it is not considered fit for human consumption because of it's poor flavor. It is considered to have a high nutritive value, and can provide 20% or even more of total food intake during winter feeding.

Cane molasses has a strong flavor, a bit like licorice. It is desirable in certain dishes but not generally suitable as a sweetener. It is also used in the manufacture of alcoholic drinks such as rum.

Does not require approval.

Conclusions and Summary:
Make sure to choose unsulphered Blackstrap Molasses, it is by far the best grade. Moderation is essential, it should be used to replace sugar in the diet, not in addition to it. Not suitable for diabetics. It has health benefits but is essentially a refined sugar, and should be treated as such.

Name Calories / Gram Sweetness Index Glycemic Index Calories / Spoon-Equiv
Molasses 3 0.8 60 16

Taste: -------- Strong
Aftertaste: ---- No
Concerns: ----- Yes

Return from Molasses to All Sweetener List