Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blackstrap Molasses Benefits

I have been getting a few enquiries about this particular ingredient that appears in my blog entry here and here and here. Blackstrap Molasses may sound like something a pirate would take or some might think it is linked to some helicopter's lubricant. Rest assured, it is nothing like that and it is actually a by-product when one is refining sugarcane to obtain the white sugar we all take in our life.
Hell yeah!
Our preoccupation with anything "white" such as white sugar, white flour and white rice has caused the manufacturer to (over) process the food we take everyday. Blackstrap molasses is actually the third boiling of sugarcane after all the sucrose (sugarcane sugar) has crystallise. 
Blackstrap molasses is a very versatile food product that can be used to offset/replace the use of many other food addictive. any recipe that requires honey, sugar, brown sugar, syrup (such as corn, malt or maple) and even as a replacement for sweet soya sauce typically used to make stew (Malaysian style). They are widely used in making cookies and known ingredient to make shisha (thanks Doc Azman) by mixing tobacco with molasses. 
Blackstrap molasses used in breadmaking, replacing sugar and/or honey. This is essential as it serves as "food" to the yeast for the bread to grow.
Other than that, molasses are mixed with feedstock and fed to animals such as cattle. Must be the high concentration of minerals that has driven the farmer to do it, apart from adding taste to the food. Industrial application, molasses are known to be mixed with ethanol and used as fuel for vehicles. How is that for versatility?
Nutritional content
The black color of the molasses might turn many off. Added with the viscous (thick) appearance at room temperature, not many are willing to put it in their mouth. Blackstrap molasses are known to contain trace vitamin and most significantly B6 and abundance of minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. One teaspoon provides up to 20% of the daily recommended need for these vitamins and minerals. Energy wise, a serving (one tablespoon, about 20grams, as they are more dense) provides about 60kcal (calories from sugar or about 15grams of it) with the balance to be liquid and minerals. Molasses is a low GI food which burns slowly in the system and does not cause an insulin spike, making it suitable to be used for diabetic patience.
Variation of Molasses
There are the sulphured and unsulphured version of this. Molasses derived from young sugarcane (unripe) has sulphur added to increase the sugar (refining) yield and to act as a preservatives to the sugar. Obviously, as the final product (aka white sugar) is packed, the sulphur resides in the molasses. The unsulphured version uses matured/ripe sugarcane and are typically more expensive. To be sure, get a certified organic molasses and it should be fine. Otherwise, read all labels. 
A typical bottle/jar will cost RM19.90 for 450grams. You can get them at your nearest organic stores or speciality grocery stores. Just don't expect to find them at your local sundry shop. Malaysians do not see the value (long term, health wise) of offsetting the use of sugar in their daily diet until it is too late. 
Looked Yucky - But full of nutrition!

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