Molasses is a by-product from the processing of sugar cane. It is a thick, gooey, sticky substance that can be used for sweetening because of its high concentration of sulfur dioxide derived from the extraction of sugar. The actual act of extracting molasses from sugar cane involves three separate stages to its production. You can stop at any one of these stages and have molasses of some consistency. The progression of these steps simply changes the taste and thickness of the molasses by extracting a certain amount of the sugar.
Strip the sugar cane of all of its leaves with a carving knife. This must be done for the extraction of any molasses so that everything that is not necessary to the actual production of the molasses is out of the way.
Crush the sugar cane to extract a thick, melon-colored juice. Do this in a standard sized mortar and pestle. Using a larger mortar and pestle will allow you to grind more of the sugar cane at a time, but will also create more of a mess. Once all of the sugar cane has been crushed to release a good portion of juice, you can remove the outer part of the sugar cane from the mortar and pestle leaving only the melon-colored juice in the bowel. Pour this juice into a pot and heat it on a stove or fire until it reaches a rolling boil. The boiling of the juice promotes a crystallization of the sugar, allowing it to form the most base stage of molasses, also known as First Molasses. This molasses type has the highest concentration of sugar because the boiling does not actually extract and evaporate the sugar, but rather uses it in the molasses.
Cool the molasses off in a fridge for three to 12 hours, or until it cools to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, pour the molasses back into a boiling pot and bring it to a boil again. This will promote the additional evaporation of the sugar, giving the molasses a stronger, more bitter taste. It will retain much of its sweetness, though it will become much thicker with the re-boiling.
Repeat this step again, bringing the cooled molasses back to a boil to create the final possible stage of molasses. This molasses will be very thick and black-colored. This molasses is known as Black-strap. It has very little sweetness, instead containing iron, potassium, calcium, sodium and magnesium, making it highly medicinal.
Cameron Burry has been writing professionally since 2006. He received his Associate of Arts degree from Lakeland College for English and writing, and holds two degrees from Murray State University: one in creative writing and one in English literature.