Molasses, which is by definition, the byproduct of the processing of sugar cane or sugar beets into sugar, can be found in most supermarkets sold as unsulfured molasses. This has a lighter, cleaner taste than those processed with sulfurdioxide as a preservative. During the earlier years, molasses was once regarded as a the sweetener of choice because it was a lot cheaper than refined sugar. With its very distinctive flavor, molasses has been known to bring pizazz to some recipes such as rich fruitcakes, cookies, gingerbreads and even well known culinary sauces.
Molasses comes in different varieties. The dark molasses is often used in American baked goods. It is dark brown in color, thick, and mildly sweet. The light or Barbados molasses is often used like pancake syrup; lighter, milder and sweeter. The Blackstrap molasses is used less often in cooking. It is higher in nutrients, very dark brown to black in color, thicker, and has a more bitter flavor.
Though pushed aside due to the emergence and availability of other forms of sweeteners, every now and then you will come across a recipe calling for molasses as one of the main ingredients. If not a staple ingredient stocked in your pantry, molasses can be replaced with other ingredients.
If your recipe calls for 1 cup molasses, the following can be used as substitutes:
1. 1 cup honey, dark corn syrup, or maple syrup
2. 3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water or liquid in recipe
3. For baking, 3/4 cup granulated sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water plus 1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (cream of tartar adds acidity present in molasses).
4. 2 cups brown rice syrup (reduce liquid in recipe by 1 cup if necessary) or 1 3/4 cups barley malt syrup (reduce liquid in recipe by 3/4 cup if necessary).
While molasses is commonly used in cooking and baking, it has also been proven to be very useful in other food and consumption derivatives. Research shows that molasses can be used as the base material for fermentation into rum; added to some brands of tobacco used for smoking through a middle eastern water pipe such as the shisha or hookah; as an iron supplement; as additive to livestock grains to increase protein content; or even as fishing ground bait. Many professionals have also found chemical, industrial, and horticultural uses for molasses.