One evening you’re craving for some cookies, and you start searching for that delicious gingerbread recipe you grandma gave you. In between preparing the necessary ingredients, you suddenly realize that you simply can’t make these cookies without some sweet molasses syrup that you used to adore as a kid!
You immediately remember that you bought that one jar some time ago, but you’re not sure of its condition since you only use it on such occasions. Then you’re starting to wonder – does molasses go bad?
This sweet, delicious syrup is undoubtedly a big part of your childhood. It awakens nostalgic and warm memories that you and your family shared around the Christmas tree. You have always had it in your house in large amounts. As this is one of those products that many of us don’t use often, we never really know its shelf life.
Naturally, we couldn’t let this one slide, and so we explored this topic thoroughly to give you the best possible answers. Therefore, if you are curious to find out if molasses goes bad, how long does it lasts, and how to properly store it, read on!
Does Molasses Go Bad?
Sadly, the answer to our question is that molasses can go bad but after a long period. Still, if it’s not stored correctly, it can go bad much sooner than you think.
So How Long Does It Last?
- There’s no exact information on how long molasses can last. Best-by-date can give you some idea of how long it will be best to consume it. But molasses can last much longer past its date on the label!
- Some say that it can last forever, but that’s not true. If unopened, it can have a lifespan from one to ten years! But, it’s usually at peak quality for the first four years. This sweetener can go bad because of several factors; it all really depends on how you store it. Although, you should always bear in mind that the old bottle of molasses won’t taste as good as the fresh one. Once you open it, we recommend using it within six months.
Molasses is a sweetener in the form of a liquid syrup. It is a product of the sugar-making process as it comes from sugar beets or crushed sugar cane. First, the sugar is extracted from the sugar beets, and then it is boiled to form the sugar crystals. After that, the sugar crystals are removed, and what’s left is molasses syrup. Each time the process is repeated, different types of molasses are produced.
There are several varieties of molasses with the difference in the color, consistency, sugar content, and flavor.
1. Light Molasses
- This type comes from the first boiling. It is the sweetest in the taste of all three types.
2. Dark Molasses
- This type comes from the second boiling, and it is darker in color, thicker and less sweet than the light version.
3. Blackstrap Molasses
- This type comes from third boiling, and it is the thickest and darkest in color. Also, It has a little bit of a bitter taste.
4. Unsulfured Molasses
- This type doesn’t contain sulfur dioxide, which is a preservative added to prevent spoilage. It certainly has a shorter shelf life than the sulfured version. This type should always be kept in the refrigerator, and once you open it, you should use it within 6 months.
- We know almost everyone loves molasses, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t because it is surprisingly full of vitamins and minerals. It contains magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, iron, calcium, selenium, and vitamin B-6. Besides, it has more antioxidants than honey, maple, and agave syrup! However, you should be careful because it contains high sugar levels and in large doses, it can be harmful to your health.
- Many people also use molasses as a sweetener in their drinks, for sauces and glazes such as barbecue sauce and salad dressing.
How To Store Molasses?
The proper storage can make the molasses go a long way. But, there are some temperature, humidity, and location factors that you should consider in order to exceed its shelf life. If stored properly, it can be consumed months after the date on its label and still taste good.
The best storage conditions for your jar of molasses is a cold or slightly above room temperature. You should always keep it away from direct sunlight and heat. Furthermore, humidity can cause rapid growth of mold and fungi. Additionally, if it is an open jar of molasses, you should always make sure you wipe clean the jar’s lip and close it tightly after each use. Otherwise, too much air circulation can cause your molasses to dry out and become uneatable.
2. Storage Locations
The best way to preserve molasses fresh for the long term is to keep it in its original packaging. Always aim to store it in a dark place such as a pantry or cellar.
Since once opened a jar of unsulphured molasses can ferment and go rancid quickly, it needs to be refrigerated. On the other hand, if it’s blackstrap molasses, you don’t need to keep it in the refrigerator as it can cause its viscosity to thicken, and it will be hard to pour. However, If you decide to store it in the fridge, make sure it’s not the upper part of the fridge since this could be a high source of moisture. The refrigerator always keeps the temperature consistent, so we always recommend it as the best storage place for either opened or unopened jar of molasses.
At the same time, you can also freeze molasses if you like. Although, it probably won’t freeze solid because of the sugar content. Even so, freezing is not the best method because it can cause it to be grainy and crystallized, and the thawing process increases the risk of mold growth. If, in any case, you want to freeze the product, the best way is to pour it in the freezer-safe container with an airtight lid.
As a refrigerated or frozen jar of molasses will be thick and hard to pour, always keep in mind that you should plan a few hours ahead if you need it. Therefore, pull it out of the refrigerator to let it come to room temperature first. Or, you can always heat it in the pot of warm water and make it more fluid thus easier to pour.
How To Tell If Molasses Is Spoiled?
The signs of spoilage can undoubtedly occur on both opened and unopened jars of molasses. To look for telltale signs of spoiled molasses, you will need to check how it looks, smells, and tastes.
These signs are:
- Visible changes in appearance like the different color, signs of clumping and crystallization, or even mold spots;
- An unpleasant or strange odor;
- Any changes in the aroma.
Overall, any modifications of looks, smell, and taste are the sure signs that it has gone bad, and you need to discard it. However, if it tastes and looks fine, it is probably still suitable for use. Even though there are no documented cases of molasses poisoning and you probably won’t get sick of bad molasses, it is best to toss it if you’re not sure, just to be on the safe side.
And if you’re not so sure what molasses should look, smell or taste like, the easiest way is to open a new jar and try some. Because this way you will know what to expect.
Does Molasses Go Bad – Final Thoughts
The bottom line is that if stored properly, molasses can last for a few years. Nevertheless, it won’t taste the same as the fresh one does. Although it can last past its best-by-date, it’s always safer to discard it if you notice any signs of mold, changes in color, or smell. Also, after too much time, its flavor will be degraded and won’t give you high-quality results when in need.
When not in use, it is essential you keep your jar of molasses in a cold and dark place with a low humidity level to avoid the mold and bacteria growth. Moreover, avoid keeping the molasses in the refrigerator or freezer because it can affect its viscosity.
Remember that molasses contains much more nutrients than refined sugar, but it can still have negative effects on your health because of its high sugar content. So, always consume it within limits of 1 tablespoon per serving.
Finally, if you have a jar of molasses that’s been sitting in your cupboard for a while, it might be a time to bake some cookies!