molasses, sugar byproduct, the brownish liquid residue left after heat crystallization of sucrose (commercial sugar) in the process of refining. Molasses contains chiefly the uncrystallizable sugars as well as some remnant sucrose. Centrifuges are used to drain the molasses off from the sucrose crystals. Molasses is often reprocessed to retrieve more of this remnant sucrose. The better grades, such as New Orleans drip molasses and Barbados molasses—unreprocessed and therefore lighter in color and containing more sucrose—are used in cooking and confectionery and in the production of rum. The lowest grade, called blackstrap, is mainly used in mixed cattle feed and in the manufacture of industrial alcohol. Sugarcane is the major source of molasses; other sugar plants, e.g., the sugar beet, yield inferior types. The name molasses is sometimes applied to syrups obtained from sorghum and the sugar maple. In Great Britain, molasses is called treacle.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.