Is Molasses Vegan?
Molasses is a thick, brown syrup that is a byproduct of the sugar refinement process. There are a few different types of molasses, ranging from dark to light, and it’s often used in baking recipes to enhance the flavour and increase the sweetness. But is molasses vegan? Let’s find out!
What is molasses?
Have you ever wondered what makes brown sugar different from white sugar? It’s the molasses! Brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses added to it. It’s what gives the sugar it’s caramel-like flavour and soft, moist texture. You’ll have probably noticed in supermarkets that brown sugar has a light variation and a dark variation- the darker a brown sugar is, the most molasses it contains.
Molasses is a byproduct from the sugar refining process. It’s a thick, viscous, honey-like syrup that’s brown in colour and has a dark, rich flavour. People often wonder if it can be used as a maple syrup or honey replacement but it’s not a great substitute as it is slightly more bitter than those sweet alternatives. There are a few different varieties of molasses- blackstrap, dark and light.
Is it the same as black treacle?
No. Although the two may look and taste similar, molasses and treacle are not exactly the same thing. Just like molasses, treacle is also a byproduct of the sugar refining process but it is removed from the boiling process earlier. This means treacle tastes slightly sweeter than molasses because there’s more sugar left in there. Black treacle is more common in the UK, and molasses is more commonly found in the USA.
Treacle is often used in sweet baking recipes such as treacle tart and gingerbread biscuits, while molasses tends to be used in savoury recipes more often. However, because treacle is a variation of molasses, you can generally substitute them with one another in a recipe. Blackstrap molasses and black treacle are the closest in flavour and texture, and the closest match to light molasses is golden syrup.
Is it healthy?
It is a lot healthier than white sugar, that’s for sure! While not exactly a health food, molasses does contain health benefits that sugar does not.
The first benefit is that it is very rich in iron and calcium. Many vegans actually eat a tablespoon of molasses a day for these minerals, since iron and calcium can sometimes be hard to get enough of on a vegan diet. Molasses is also rich in magnesium, copper, zinc, potassium and vitamin B6. Just 1 tablespoon a day is said to help ward off anemia and prevent constipation, although the dury is still out on this one.
It’s more nutrient dense than honey or maple syrup, so while it may not taste as delicious, it can be a healthier alternative for your morning porridge topping!
Is molasses vegan?
Yes. Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar refining process, and sugar is also vegan in the UK. If you buy your molasses in a UK store, it’s safe to assume it’s vegan-friendly. Most of the brands here have the vegan logo on the packaging.
Molasses does not contain egg, dairy, gelatine, or any other non-vegan ingredients. The stuff you see on the shelves is typically 100% molasses.
Why wouldn’t molasses be vegan?
Molasses itself is vegan but there is a reason that it may not be vegan-friendly or cruelty-free in some cases. This is because some sugar is processed using bone char, which is made from animal bones. If molasses is produced using this method, it wouldn’t be considered vegan-friendly because it involves harm to animals.
The use of bone char happens mostly in the USA. In the UK, all sugar is vegan and therefore molasses made in the UK should be vegan too.
How to check if molasses is vegan
If you really want to ensure that your molasses is vegan, look for the certified vegan logo on the packaging or buy organic. Organic molasses does not use bone char as part of the sugar refining process- this applies in the USA too. I have listed some certified vegan brands below to help you out!
Is molasses gluten-free?
Yes. Molasses itself does not contain gluten and is not mixed with any gluten-containing ingredients. As with everything, there may be a risk of cross-contamination. If you have a gluten allergy, you’ll need to make sure that you double check the particular brand’s allergy warnings before you consume it.
Vegan molasses brands
Black treacle seems to be more popular than molasses here but there are a few different companies that sell it in the UK. You can click on the links below to find out more information about each product.
- Meridian pure blackstrap molasses is certified organic and their website states this product is suitable for vegans.
- Biona blackstrap molasses is also certified organic and labelled as vegan.
- Holland & Barrett molasses. Described as ‘rich and mellow’, this molasses from Holland & Barrett is not labelled as organic but is vegan-friendly.
- Greenfields cane molasses. I’ve never actually seen this one in real life before but you can purchase it from Asda stores.
Ways to use it
Now that you know molasses is vegan, why not try some vegan baking with it? You can use it in any of the following desserts:
Molasses is vegan friendly most of the time and you can ensure this by purchasing organic. It gives baked goods a rich, dark flavour and is what makes brown sugar soft and moist. It’s popular with vegans due to its high mineral content.
Molasses tastes best in sweetly-spiced recipes such as gingerbread cookies, muffins and cupcakes, to help enhance the rich flavours. While not exactly the same thing, blackstrap molasses can be substituted for black treacle, and light molasses can be substituted for golden syrup.
It is not a suitable maple syrup or honey substitute for baking but it can be used as an alternative for simple things such as a porridge topping. The taste is less sweet and more bitter than a typical syrup.