Black Treacle is a byproduct of sugar cane’s refining process. Sugar cane is mashed to create juice. It’s then boiled once to create cane syrup. A second boiling creates molasses.
After this syrup has been boiled a third time, a dark viscous liquid emerges known to Americans as blackstrap molasses. It has the lowest sugar content of any sugar cane product.
Black Treacle has almost no remaining sucrose and is therefore a little bitter sweet. On the plus side, Black Treacle is high in nutrients like calcium and iron, and has long been used by the health food industry as a nutritional additive. Even before that, a tablespoon of straight Black Treacle was a cure-all for an upset stomach and a general system cleanser!
The wonderment of Black Treacle is that it’s unlike refined sugar, which has zero nutritional value. Black Treacle contains vital vitamins and minerals, such as:
- vitamin B6
Black Treacle is touted as a superfood. While it’s no miracle cure, it’s a rich source of several minerals.
A SWEET SYRUP REDEEMED: WHY YOU NEED TO TRY MOLASSES
Of all the mouthwatering sugars and sweeteners available to today’s cooks, molasses may be the least understood and the least used.
THE DARK SIDE
Centuries ago, molasses was a popular commodity, used as a sweetener and as an ingredient in rum.
Unfortunately, demand for the product in the US colonies led to ugly trade arrangements where enslaved people were sold in the Caribbean for barrels of treacle, as the sweet sauce is known in some places.
The syrup was then shipped to New England where rum was crafted and much of it sent to Africa.
HOW IS IT MADE?
In a multi-step process, juice is extracted from sugar cane or from sugar beets. The juice is boiled a number of times, reducing to a syrup, and eventually sugar crystallizes out of the syrup.
Using a centrifuge, the crystals are separated out, leaving a sticky residue behind.
The light version is produced after the first boil. Light in color, it is the sweetest of the various types. This product is sometimes labeled “sweet,” “first,” “mild,” or “Barbados.”
Dark molasses — sometimes called “second” or “full” — results from the second boiling. It is darker in color and offers a richer, more complex flavor that is reminiscent of caramelized sugar. It’s also thicker and less sweet than its lighter cousin.
The blackstrap variety results from the third boiling and is quite thick and slightly bitter tasting.
MORE HEALTHFUL THAN SUGAR?
Blackstrap is the only form with any nutritional benefits beyond that of a typical empty-calorie sweetener, including iron, calcium, and potassium.
Some healthy-eating proponents consider blackstrap a “superfood,” and eat it by the spoonful as a dietary supplement for strengthening bones and treating anemia.
When you think of this ingredient, especially around the holidays, gingerbread might be the first thing that pops into your head.
This syrup can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes, many of which also call for the flavorful combination of ginger and molasses.
Uses for Molasses
From sweet goods to savory dishes, light and Black Treacle can be used in a variety of ways. Black Treacle adds moisture and color to baked goods like pecan pie, and it thickens up barbecue sauce for meat. Some other ways to use Black Treacle in cooking include:
- Syrup: Black Treacle can be a substitute for maple syrup, drizzled over pancakes or to sweeten a bowl of oatmeal.
- Baked beans: The viscosity of dark molasses and its high calcium level keep baked beans firm.
- Brown sugar: Brown sugar is a combination of white sugar mixed with Black Treacle. Black Treacle gives brown sugar its color and moist, thick consistency.
- Desserts: In baked goods, Black Treacle creates a moist consistency. It is used in sweets like pecan pie and gingerbread recipes.
- Pumpernickel bread: Along with brown sugar and cocoa powder, Black Treacle is a main ingredient of this dark bread.
- Marinades: The thick consistency and sweet flavor of Black Treacle pair well with grilled meat.