Molasses is typically made from sugar cane. The cane juice is heated, then cooled. As it cools, sugar crystals form. These crystals are the basis for commonly sold white granulated sugar. The dark syrup that remains after the sugar crystals are removed is known as molasses. This syrup can be diluted, reheated, and recooled several times to extract more sugar crystals. Each sugar extraction leaves the resulting molasses less sweet, and more pungent or bitter. "Blackstrap" molasses has undergone several extractions and is usually the least sweet of those sold.
What to buy?
You'll see various brands and types of molasses in the store. Grandma's and Brer Rabbit are two available near me. "Mild" and "Full Flavor" molasses have undergone fewer extractions than blackstrap and contain more sweet-tasting cane juice. But there's nothing quite like the robust, deep-roasted flavor of blackstrap. And of all the common sweeteners, blackstrap molasses, through its process of reduction, is an excellent source of minerals.
One tablespoon blackstrap molasses provides1:
If you've never tasted molasses, you might want to start with a milder version than blackstrap. Grandma's Original with the gold label is a good one.
1The nutrient profile can vary depending on the quality of sugar cane and the level of extraction. These figures are averages.