What is life without sweetness?
And don’t even tell me you’re on a sweet-free diet.
We all need a pinch of sugar here and a drop of honey there. And although those two are the most popular sweeteners available, there is one that you must definitely try.
Or you probably did, then forgot all about it.
It’s a dark syrup called molasses. However, most people are not quite familiar with it beyond its use in Christmas cookies— the gingerbread man.
And you probably have it there— taking up space on your fridge or kitchen cabinet since you used it on that one gingerbread recipe. It might be wondering when will it see daylight again.
So here’s the full answer to the question: Does molasses go bad?
What is Molasses Anyway?
The arrival of Molasses can be dated back to the 1600s when traders took slaves to the Caribbean in order to exchange for several barrels of molasses.
The molasses was then carried to New England where it was made and brewed into rum, creating a highly profitable business.
Molasses is a sweet, dark, syrup byproduct that made during the extraction of sugars from sugar beets and sugarcane.
It can vary in colors, nutritional content, and sweetness depending on the variety or the amount of sugar that has been extracted.
Molasses is used mostly in baking, grilling, cooking, and brewing of rum and beer. It can also be added to marinades and sauces and used to sweeten coffee, cocktails and roasted veggies.
How Long Do Molasses Last? Does Molasses Go Bad?
Molasses can be stored for a fairly long time without any bad effects. As a matter of fact, it is an incredibly long-lasting food when stored properly. There’s never been a documented case of molasses syrup poisoning anywhere in the globe, so you and your family are quite safe of the risk in eating a “year-old molasses.”
However, there are a lot of opinions, in terms of the shelf life of molasses. Of course, most bottles will come with a “Best By” Date.
However, it is only an approximation of how long the product will retain its best quality. And in terms of molasses and other kinds of sweeteners such as corn syrup, that “Best By” date is as often has little to do with reality.
In other words, molasses can stay safe for you to consume and remain in good quality for months after the date on its label.
In case there is no date on the label, you can safely assume that sealed and unopened jars of molasses is best by at least 2 years in the pantry and probably more if kept in the fridge.
Opened bottles of molasses, on the other hand, should last for a year or more, if properly stored and kept tightly sealed after every use.
However, yes, molasses can still go bad. Molasses is highly hygroscopic. This means that it attracts and retains moisture so there’s a high chance of bacterial growth if it is stored improperly.
How To Tell If Molasses Is Bad?
Molasses is one of the hardest products to determine its age. The feel, look, and smell will still be the same with time— and I mean years of time!
There are no exact signs that would provide a clue when molasses has gone bad. You only need to pay close attention to the slight changes in the flavor and color of the product for sure.
Since it is supposed to be a liquid sweetener, any kind of crystallization indicates that the molasses may have spoiled.
Watch out especially for any signs of mold, since they can be really tiny and quite difficult to spot once they first form. You will also need to throw it out if it begins to give off an odor or ay start to taste weird.
In case you are not quite sure how molasses should smell and taste, well, you can always get a new bottle and give it a good sniff and a few tastes. Now, you will have an idea of what to expect.
If the liquid looks fine and the smell is still sweet, then feel free to taste it. If it gives a not-so-good, altered taste then better toss it right away. If not, then feel free to use it in your next gingerbread project or any other recipe that calls for it!
How To Store Molasses Properly?
You can store molasses pretty much the same way that you store other liquid sweeteners such as maple syrup and honey. This means that it should be kept in a dry and cool place. And this goes for all types of store-bought molasses: dark, light and blackstrap molasses.
If you tend to use it often, then your pantry is your best choice, however, the kitchen should work too. Just remember that keeping it in a place where the temperature does not fluctuate that much should help in extending its shelf life.
If you want, you can also refrigerate molasses. However, you should know that molasses has quite interesting properties. It can have the liquid consistency similar to maple syrup or it can be as dense and thick as tree sap.
Refrigerating molasses causes it to thicken thanks to the cold temperature. You don’t need additional things to store molasses in the fridge. Open or unopened, you can just put it in the fridge in its original packaging.
So, if you need to use that molasses you stored in the fridge, you can just either pull it out of the fridge and let it sit for a few hours or heat the whole jar or bottle in a pot of warm water. This should reduce the thickness and make the sweetener more fluid.
Once you opened the jar or bottle, the most important thing that you need to remember is to keep it tightly sealed when not in use. There is really no need to refrigerate molasses after opening but it should help in retaining the quality for longer.