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Lyle's Black Treacle is sticky, sweet and useful in the kitchen
Black treacle has many uses
Black treacle used to be a common sight on the shelves of food shops and on the shopping list but although it isn't seen as often these days it still is a popular ingredient in many recipes. Lyle's Black Treacle in a red tin with a lion on the panel is a classic sweetener and flavouring for many sweet foods.
Black treacle, which is also known as dark treacle, is very different to golden syrup but both are products of the sugar manufacturing industry and are produced in the process of refining sugar. Black treacle is similar to blackstrap molasses but not as dark. Both black treacle and molasses have health-giving ingredients that refined sugars do not possess. They are a source of iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamins.
Cooking with black treacle
Black treacle has the rich and slightly bitter flavour of caramel and is a very distinct flavouring that is very different to white sugar, brown sugar and golden syrup.
Black treacle is an important ingredient in Christmas puddings and in Christmas cakes. It adds both a dark colouring and a rich and sweet flavouring.
Black treacle can also be used in gingerbread, in mince pies, in flapjacks, cookies and, of course, in treacle tart. Black treacle can also be used to glaze and marinate cooked meats.
Black treacle can be added to sauces and casseroles. It can also be used as a sweetener in hot drinks. Personally I love it in black coffee to which it adds even further dark colouring and its own treacle flavour which blends so well with that of the coffee.
Black treacle makes really excellent toffee too and I can remember eating this as a boy. My mother used to make it and it never lasted long!
Black treacle is a wonderful ingredient for cooks to experiment with. It could easily be your secret ingredient in a recipe.
To make a Christmas Pudding
Treacling for moths
Black treacle has another use that is probably not so well known about as its use as a sweetener in recipes. Lepidopterists (people who study butterflies and moths) will know black treacle as a substance that used to be widely used to attract moth species at night.
It gave its name to the procedure of "treacling". To attract moths the person who wanted to study or collect them would use black treacle or molasses as the base for a sticky mixture that could be painted on walls, fences and tree trunks and then left a while to work its magic.
Other ingredients such as rum and pear drops were added to individual recipes for treacling.
The lepidopterist would return at a later point in the night armed with a torch to see what species had been lured by the sticky meal. Alcoholic spirits like rum and brandy were used to not only give out a stronger smell to the treacle but to render the insects easier to catch.
On a good night a patch of treacle might attract very many moths and would surprise the "treacler" with the variety of species that might turn up to dine on the sweet and sticky lure.
Copyright © 2010 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.
Eating Black Treacle filmed
- How to attract moths to your garden | Life and style | guardian.co.uk
Moths are marvellous, says Martin Wainwright