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What is the difference between blackstrap and unsulphured molasses?

I am making a recipe for graham crackers that calls for unsulphured (not blackstrap) molasses. I already have a bottle of unsulphured blackstrap molasses but am hesitant to use it since the recipe actually says "not blackstrap." I don't use molasses enough to have TWO bottles of it. Do you think I can substitute?

BTW - it is the recipe in Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain if anyone has the book or has made them :) Thanks in advance for helping!

asked by Plum Pie almost 5 years ago
8 answers 117490 views

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

added almost 5 years ago

Sulfured vs. unsulfured and blackstrap vs. lighter molasses are actually two different categories (I got some help from Harold McGee here). Blackstrap is the most carmalized form of molasses, so it's darker and richer than other varieties. Sulfuring adds another stronger flavor, that you wouldn't want (but fortunately, that's not a worry for you). McGee says that most molasses sold in the States today is actually a blend of molasses and syrups. I'd guess that the Kim Boyce direction is telling you to use something lighter. If you like a strong molasses taste, I'd go ahead and use your blackstrap. Or, if you had some other syrup, like light or dark corn syrup, you could mix that in.

added almost 5 years ago

Yes you can use unsuphured blackstrap molasses in lieu of unsulphured. The flavor will be stronger and it won't be as sweet. This will be a matter of personal taste - you will just have to try it.

It has higher iron content, folate, b vitamins, magnesium and calcium, potassium. The American Heart Association includes unsulphured blackstrap molasses as food supportive of good heart health.


AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added almost 5 years ago

Blackstrap tends to be bitter, with a very strong taste. "Unsulphured" is generally used on the labels of regular (i.e., neither light nor blackstrap) molasses. Regular molasses is a good, flavorful, all-purpose molasses. (I don't care much for the bitter taste of blackstrap in the types of things people usually put molasses in, so as you can guess, I don't use it.) I'm not sure I've ever bought light molasses. If I want a light molasses flavor, I can easily get it by using brown sugar, following standard substitution rules to account for its having less liquid. Anyway, if the label of what you have does not say "blackstrap" on it, you're good to go. ;o)

added almost 5 years ago

Thanks for the answers everyone!

My bottle says Blackstrap Unsulphured Molasses and I usually like sweeter things soooo...The recipe only calls for one tablespoon though. I clearly misread the ingredients when I went to the grocery as I specifically looked FOR blackstrap when it states very clearly "not blackstrap". Sigh.

added almost 5 years ago

Molasses made from mature sugar cane is not sulfured, vs. molasses made from younger canes is, where sulfur dioxide is added as a preservative.

Molasses, whether it is sulfured or not, is produced in grades. The first boiling produces light molasses, and this is the sweetest of the grades. A second boiling gives you dark molasses, and a third boiling results in blackstrap molasses, which is the least sweet of the three.

If the recipe specifically advises against blackstrap molasses, it will likely be too bitter if you use it 1 to 1.

For graham crackers, maybe try honey or golden syrup (pure liquid cane sugar), if you have it.

added almost 5 years ago

1 tablespoon would not have enough of an impact on the taste to deter me! I actually love the taste of blackstrap molasses, but if you think you'd like it sweeter, assuming there is another source of sugar in the recipe, just add a bit to that, and keep the blackstrap for a distinctive molasses flavor.

added almost 5 years ago

Lacking enough regular (Grandma's brand) molasses and in a crunch for time, I once filled out the required amount with some blackstrap I happened to have---into my favorite gingerbread recipe. (Edna Lewis's in The Gift of Southern Cooking). As the Ghost in Hamlet said (speaking of Purgatory), "Oh horrible, most horrible." When the recipe writer says, "No blackstrap," she knows whereof she speaks. Get your vitamins and minerals elsewhere.


June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added almost 5 years ago

Personally, I don't even use blackstrap molasses when it's called for. Too strong for my tastes.

I was not aware there was such a thing as "Blackstrap Unsulphured" Molasses. I keep Grandma's Unsulphured on hand for baking needs.