Blackstrap molasses may be a lesser known sweetener to many, and its uses somewhat of a mystery. So what’s the deal with blackstrap molasses? Known as a “healthier” sweetener, blackstrap molasses carries potential health benefits due to its vitamins and nutrient contents. From baked recipes to delicious sauces, blackstrap molasses can add a depth of flavor like no other sweetener. And although it’s still technically an added sugar that you should limit, this sugar has more healthful attributes, making it a little bit of a better choice than other refined sugars.
What It Is
Before we get into the many versatile uses of blackstrap, here’s a little background on what blackstrap molasses really is. Blackstrap is one of three types of molasses made from sugarcane. Each boiling of the sugarcane is part of the refining process, in which different nutrients are left behind after each boiling. Light molasses is created from the first boiling of sugarcane; it is lighter in color and is usually from a young sugar cane. This light molasses is sometimes treated with sulphur dioxide, which can act as a preservative. Dark molasses is the byproduct of the second boiling once more sugar is extracted; it is not as sweet and is best for cooking or baking. Dark in color and richer in nutrients, blackstrap molasses is produced from the third boiling. One of the best qualities of blackstrap molasses is its rich source of plant-based iron.
Specifically, 13 grams (about 2 teaspoons) of blackstrap molasses contains iron (13% DV), manganese (18% DV), magnesium (7% DV), copper (14% DV), calcium (12% DV), and potassium (10% DV). Compared to maple syrup, blackstrap contains more minerals, but does not taste as sweet. Blackstrap molasses has a similar calorie count as sugar, but a lower glycemic index.
How to Use It
On its own or mixed with other sweeteners such as maple syrup, blackstrap molasses can be used in cereals, marinades, dressings, sauces, smoothies, cookies, desserts, and more. For marinades, add a couple of tablespoons to any herbal, spicy or savory mixture with olive oil and lemon juice to add a warm flavor to grilled tofu or vegetables. Mix a tablespoon or two into sauces, such as barbecue sauce or salad dressings. In smoothies, a tablespoon or more can add a boost of mild sweetness, as well as nutrients. Puddings and breakfast oats are also great recipes that benefit from a swirl of blackstrap molasses to add flavor, a touch of sweetness, and nutrients. Blackstrap molasses can also be used in baking, including cookies, bars, muffins, pancakes, fruit cobblers, and cakes. The sweetener adds a mild, smoky bitter-sweetness, and a warm color to many recipes. It’s even good in savory dishes, such as chili, baked beans, and stews, where that smoky mild sweetness and dark color can add a flavor boost.
Check out one of our favorite recipes using blackstrap molasses: Overnight Spiced Oats with Figs and Walnuts.
Written by Melissa Samaroo, Dietetic Intern with Sharon Palmer, RDN