Does Molasses Go Bad?

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Molasses is the dark, sweet, syrupy liquid that is the byproduct of the sugar extraction process from sugarcane and sugar beets. Molasses from sugarcane is used primarily for human consumption, while molasses from sugar beets is most commonly used in animal feeds. This is because of the bitter flavor it has. The United States grows both sugarcane and sugar beets.

Molasses is highly viscous and most commonly used as a sweetener or flavoring agent. Molasses is the main ingredient of brown sugar. Molasses is used for cooking and baking, and it also works wonderfully as a marinade and dip. Molasses gives food a nice sweet and rich flavor and is hugely popular in many kitchens.

There are two primary types of molasses sulfured and unsulfured, this is basically just molasses with sulfur and without sulfur. Unsulfured molasses is made from fully mature, juicy sugarcanes that are sun-ripened. Sulfured molasses is extracted from sugarcanes that have not fully matured and have not fully ripened, therefore, sulfur is added during the extraction process. Sulfured molasses is less sweet than unsulfured molasses, but either way, molasses is loaded with minerals, iron, and calcium. The molasses in stores are mostly unsulfured.

There are three types of molasses sold in stores: light molasses, dark molasses, and blackstrap molasses.

Light molasses: This is usually lighter and thinner than the other two types. It is also the sweetest of the three molasses.

Dark molasses: This is more viscous than light molasses and not as sweet, but it does have a much stronger flavor.

Blackstrap molasses: This is the most processed of the three, it is triple-boiled and is much thicker than the other two types of molasses. It is not as sweet and can sometimes have a slightly bitter taste. Blackstrap molasses is a great substitute for sugar as it has a low to moderate glycemic index and is said to stabilize blood sugar levels. It is also believed to reduce stress and improve bone and skin health.

Molasses is often compared to honey, corn syrup, and even maple syrup, but molasses is much thicker and darker.

Does Molasses Go Bad?

Molasses has a pretty long and strong shelf life. It can last from a few years to a decade depending on its storage and production. But having said that, molasses does go bad. Molasses is quite viscous and thick and is considered hygroscopic, which means it easily and readily absorbs moisture from the air. This in turn increases the chances of spoilage and bacteria. This is why proper storage of molasses is essential. Since it is in actuality such a long-lasting substance, spoilage due to improper storage leads to wastage.

How Long Does Molasses Last?

  • Molasses has a really long shelf life.
  • A tightly sealed, unopened bottle of molasses can even last for 10 years. But realistically, unopened bottles of molasses will stay good for 1-2 years after the best-by date. The best-by date is the date when the product is expected to reach peak quality. It is not the same as the expiry date. The best-by date does not indicate when the product will spoil.
  • Some people believe that an unopened bottle of molasses when left in the fridge can last well beyond a decade.
  • Do keep in mind that although molasses can and will last a long time, it will start losing its flavor and quality. So, while the molasses that has been lying around in your fridge or pantry might not be spoiled, it will not have the same quality.
  • An opened bottle of molasses will last for 1 to 2 years if stored properly.
Type of molassesPantryFridge
Unopened bottle of molassesBest-by date + 1-2 years2-10 years
Opened bottle of molasses1-2 years1-2 years

The above table is an estimate of how long molasses will last. The actual shelf-life depends mostly on how well it has been stored.

How Best To Store Molasses?

  • Molasses has a really long shelf life.
  • But because molasses is not commonly used usually, most people have molasses lying around in their kitchens wondering if it is still good to use.
  • Molasses needs to be stored with care if you want to enjoy it for a long time and not speed up its decay.
  • An unopened bottle of molasses can be stored in your pantry or kitchen cabinet. Keep it in a cool, dark place away from direct heat and sunlight. Ensure that the lid is tightly secure.
  • You can also keep an unopened bottle of molasses in the fridge, but it is not necessary.
  • Similarly, an open bottle of molasses will be fine in the pantry as well. Just make sure that it is tightly closed. As an added measure, it is suggested, you wipe down the lid of the molasses bottle or jar with a clean, dry cloth. This is to ensure that no moisture or external contaminants are introduced.
  • Molasses attracts moisture from the air, which can accelerate its decay. This is why you have to take extra care to wipe the lid down.
  • Molasses, when opened can be kept in the fridge. This is not necessary as long as you take care to ensure that your bottle is clean and stored properly. This is because molasses just gets thicker when refrigerated, making it harder to pour out and use.
  • Since molasses is not used very often, some people consider freezing it so that they can use it when needed and have it for a long time.
  • While molasses can be frozen, freezing it is not recommended. This is because one molasses does not fully freeze because of all the sugar in it. Secondly, when kept in the freezer, the texture of the molasses drastically changes. It becomes very thick and cannot be easily used in cooking. It needs to not just be thawed, but it has to be warmed up as well.
  • To warm up molasses, place the bottle in a bowl of hot water, this will soften the molasses up.
  • The key storage tip for molasses is to keep the bottle tightly sealed and moisture-free.

How To Tell If Your Molasses Has Gone Bad?

Because of its viscosity and dark color, it is difficult to tell if molasses has gone bad. If you are not sure if your molasses is still good to consume, here are a few things to watch out for.

  • Mold: Check if there I any mold or growth on the surface of the molasses. If you see any, discard right away.
  • Smell: Molasses just has a strong, syrupy-sweet smell. If your molasses smells “off”, sour or rancid, then it has gone bad.
  • Taste: If you can’t tell from the smell or presence of mold then take a small taste. If the molasses tastes sour or off, then toss it out.

Molasses is a product that has a very healthy shelf life. If you are a regular user and consumer of molasses, then follow the tips above to store your molasses to enjoy it for as long as possible.

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