It looks like tar, has the consistency of honey, and possesses a pungent scent. It’s blackstrap molasses, a gooey, bittersweet superfood packed with rich flavor and ample nutrients. But how does it differ from light and dark molasses?

During the refining process, sugar cane juice is boiled three times, and after each cooking cycle the liquid is spun to extract sugar crystals. However, not all of the sugar is removed with one process, which is why the juice is cooked multiple times. The syrupy by-product left over after each boil is molasses. The first boiling results in light molasses – the sweetest and most sugar-dense of the three types. Dark molasses, mildly sweet and darker in color, comes from the second boiling. After the third round is blackstrap – the thickest molasses. It has a slightly bittersweet taste and the color chocolate fudge sauce. Because it contains the lowest amount of sugar, it is considered the most healthy. It’s also a substantial source of iron, calcium, and potassium, which contribute to strong bones and improved brain function.

Even though blackstrap molasses is less saccharin than its light and dark cousins, it still retains some of its sweetness which makes it a healthful alternative to sugar. Traditionally, it has been utilized in baked goods like cookies and gingerbread and is a key ingredient in some BBQ sauces, baked beans, and marinades. If you are following a vegan lifestyle, you can use it as a substitute for honey, both in recipes and by itself. Drizzle it over oatmeal, blend in into smoothies, or use it bind homemade granola bars. This Hot Molasses recipe from - which mixes blackstrap and soy milk – sounds like the delicious way to cozy up on a crisp autumn morning.