Molasses is any of various thick brownish syrups obtained as a by-product in manufacturing sugar. Most of the world's molasses is produced from sugarcane grown in countries with warm climates, notably Cuba, Brazil, and India. Beet molasses is produced mainly in the Soviet Union, the United States, West Germany, France, and other countries with temperate climates.
Generally, rotating machines called centrifuges separate cane molasses from sugar crystals at three stages in the manufacture of raw sugar from sugarcane. The first extraction provides a molasses that is lighter in color and contains more sucrose than succeeding extractions. The third and usually final extraction provides blackstrap, a thick, dark, strong-tasting molasses from which all the sugar that can be recovered economically by crystallization has been removed. Refiner's blackstrap is a byproduct in a later step in refining raw sugar. ' Light molasses consists of about 65% carbohydrates, 24% water, 6% ash, and small percentages of minerals and vitamins in the B family. Blackstrap consists of about 55% carbohydrates, 24% water, and larger percentages of ash, minerals, and vitamins than does light molasses. It is more nutritious than the lighter types.
The lighter molasses are used in many baked foods, in candies, and in making rum. Blackstrap is a major raw material for feeds for cattle, sheep, and horses. In industry, cane molasses is used in making yeast, alcohol, and some organic chemicals.
Centrifuges are used to separate by-product beet molasses from the sugar crystals formed by evaporating the syrupy juice of sugar beets. Beet molasses has fewer vitamins and a less desirable taste than cane molasses. It is used mainly in animal feeds and in making yeast and alcoholic beverages.