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!

Plum Pie


Stephanie November 13, 2017
See Serious Eats very good explanation of the difference and how it will affect your baking result. Blackstrap is also higher in sodium.
Ryan G. September 15, 2017
In my region, Northern California, I tend to find a lot of molasses labeled as 'unsulphured blackstrap molasses'. This is kinda weird because most sources seem to suggest that unsulphured molasses and blackstrap molasses are two different things. I recently baked a gingerbread cake from Smitten Kitchen recipe that included molasses (she actually stole it from a long chain of similar recipes related to Gramercy Tavern). The recipe warns against blackstrap, but I used this http://wholesomesweet.com/product/organic-molasses/ and the cake turned out awesome. You can find my recipe and video here: https://craftlog.com/us/cooking/gramercy-tavern-gingerbread-cake-SfmZ But I used this
ChefJune May 4, 2011
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.
mainecook61 March 31, 2011
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.
susan G. March 31, 2011
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.
macollins March 31, 2011
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.
Plum P. March 31, 2011
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.
AntoniaJames March 31, 2011
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)
SKK March 31, 2011
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.

Ericastole February 26, 2020
I am fighting cancer and try to eat healthy. I mix my own brown sugar using raw sugar and molasses in the food processor. That way I can make light or dark or very dark like blackstarp without the bitterness. It's a economical and easy way to have what the recipes call for and I use on hot oatmeal or cracked wheat. I never buy sulfured as I try to stay away from preservatives. I also only buy non GMOs as I live in San Joaquin valley and we have ALOT of cancers from the GMOs .I believe that the spraying of our next door field causes my colon cancer.
Greenstuff March 31, 2011
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.
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