short note: black strap molasses

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 27 18:17:29 UTC 2011

The two citation under "black strap" refer to--what else!--black strap. The
1936 quote refers to "black strap molasses". The point of my original post
was to find out the reason for the name "black strap molasses".

Responding to other comments:

The mystery of blackstrap molasses availability is solved by looking at
government mandated grades of molasses: first molasses (Barbados/light),
second molasses (dark), blackstrap molasses. Each level corresponds to the
boil of the raw sugar syrup to crystalize out the sugar. Each contains
different amount of residual sugar, as well as different nutritional
compositions, in general. Plus there is the difference between sulfured and
unsulfured--the latter only made from "ripe" sugar cane. The grades are
similar to those on maple syrup (what with A vs. B, plus light/medium amber
and dark). Like different grades of maple syrup, the differently graded
molasses are used for different culinary purposes. But most retail gets
blackstrap molasses and this is what most recipes call for.

Treacle and sorghum "molasses" are similar, but not identical to
molasses--I've been trying to figure out if treacle is just one of the
lighter grades of molasses. Sugar beet molasses are not used for retail and
are virtually nutritionally void, aside from residual sugar. Sorghum
molasses are not molasses at all, but are closer to "malt syrup"--like rice
malt or barley malt that are used for making beer. You can still buy barley
malt in grain or "crystal" form, but I've never seen rice malt as anything
but syrup.

Treacle is the equivalent of Dutch "stroop", which is different from
"siroop"--stroop is darker and thicker and goes on the inside of
stroopwafel. Basically, siroop goes on pancakes, stroop goes on bread. So
the composition and consistency is similar to molasses, but treacle is
somewhat lighter in color and has different flavor. I recently purchased
Belgian "stroop" made from pears--so clearly it's not identical with

I suspect "blackstrap molasses" is the kind of molasses you mix with rum to
make one kind of "black strap" (OED reference to treacle notwithstanding).
But I have no evidence for it. Personally, I find the idea of putting
molasses in alcohol quite revolting (which may be the reason for using
treacle), but to each his own.


On Fri, May 27, 2011 at 10:21 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:

> Victor, I'm not sure what you intend by the
> following.  "Quick search" turns up "black
> strap", and as you say the OED has a definition,
> which is as good as an "entry" for me.  Also, why
> cite a 1936 instance?  The OED entry has quotations from 1785 to 1842.
> Joel
> At 5/27/2011 02:37 AM, victor steinbok wrote:
> >...
> >Black strap is old slang for inferior port or, as OED suggests in its
> >definition, a weak mixture of treacle and rum. Since molasses are
> >essentially treacle, this makes for an odd formation in "black strap
> >molasses". OED has no entry, but does show it in a quotation under "strike
> >me blind". ("black strap" can be found under "black")
> >
> >1936    B. Adams Ships & Women viii. 180   The dish‥called
> > > ‘strike-me-blind’. Boiled rice, with black-strap molasses.

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