Some of the most popular sweeteners are sugar and honey, but many people aren't familiar with molasses beyond its use in Christmas cookies. What is molasses? It's your new favorite sweetener.

The history of molasses dates back to the 1600 when traders carried slaves from Africa to the Caribbean in exchange for barrels of molasses. The molasses was carried to New England where it wad made into rum, it was highly profitable.

It wasn't until 1733 when the British Parliament tried to increase its share of the market by adding a stiff tax to the molasses imported to British colonies from the French West Indies. This was known as the Molasses Act.

This sticky sweetener is created from sugar cane or sugar beet juice, which is then boiled down to a syrup. Sugar crystals are extracted from the syrup and the remaining liquid is the molasses. This syrup can also be made from dates, carob, pomegranate, and sorghum. 

Types of Molasses

coffee, honey, syrup, sweet, molasses, tea, wine, espresso
Emma Delaney

There are three types of molasses: light, dark, and blackstrap. The difference comes from different food processed into sugar. Light molasses is sweet and mild, while dark molasses is richer with a sugary flavor. Blackstrap molasses is quite bitter.

Molasses has a richer flavor, unlike honey and stevia. It's somewhat of a sweet smoky flavor, so it contrasts nicely with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg in desserts but can also be mixed with Bourbon as a marinade or a glaze for meats.

Benefits of Molasses

cinnamon, pastry, molasses, ginger, candy, gingerbread, sweet, chocolate, cookie
Maya Giaquinta

Blackstrap molasses contains vital vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium. The sweetener is derived from sugar and adds as many carbohydrates as other sugars, but it's digested slower so it may help stabilize blood sugar. 

In addition, molasses can also be used for hair care. The extracts inside the molasses are good for hair and promote healthy growth. Plus, it softens and conditions hair, adding a rich texture and prevents premature graying.

Impressed yet? Molasses isn't just for gingerbread cookies. Try substituting sugar with molasses in your coffee or make this a key ingredient for a meat glaze.