Most of us use molasses only occasionally so it is easy for a bottle to sit untouched on the shelf for quite some time. If this is the case for you, naturally, you might wonder whether molasses go bad.
We’ve done some digging and what we found out about the shelf life of molasses might surprise you. Read on to learn more.
Does Molasses Go Bad?
Molasses is known for its long shelf life. The truth though is that molasses can go bad if you do not observe proper storage practices.
Air and moisture are the worst enemies of molasses and they will hasten the spoilage of this sweetener. As long as your jar of molasses is tightly sealed and properly stored, then there is no reason for it to go bad.
Let’s take a look at how long you can expect your bottle of molasses to stay fresh.
How long Does Molasses Last?
There is no definite answer as to how long molasses last. Generally, this sweetener can last for months and even a few years past its best by date as long as you store it properly.
Each manufacturer has its own best-by date depending on things like the grade of the molasses and the date of production. But, this date is not an expiration date; you can still use the sweetener past the best-by date.
The only problem with molasses that goes past the best-by date is that the taste will start to change and decline with time. In other words, that jar of blackstrap sweetener will not taste as good two years later as it did when you first bought it.
Exposure to air and moisture is the fastest way to cause molasses to go bad. This explains why an unopened jar of molasses will last slightly longer than one that is opened.
Here is a quick summary of how long you can expect your molasses to stay good.
Molasses Shelf Life
Opened jar of molasses
|Several years past the best by date|
|Unopened jar of molasses|
Several years past the best by date
4 Tips To Tell If Molasses Has Gone Bad
Telling whether molasses has gone bad can be difficult. This is because even ‘old’ molasses may not show outright signs of spoilage and will even look and taste just fine.
It takes a keen eye to notice molasses that needs to be chucked out and replaced with a new jar. Here are some hints that your sweetener needs to be thrown out:
The presence of mold spores is a sure sign of spoilage. Molasses attracts water i.e. it is a hygroscopic substance and this property makes it quite prone to mold if it is not properly stored.
Check for actual mold spots on the surface of the sweetener or on the container itself, especially around the opening. Sometimes mold spots may not appear but the sweetener might have an unnatural slippery or glossy appearance on the surface.
Even if the molasses tastes and smells fine, if it has mold, you should definitely discard it. Not only are some types of mold dangerous; moldy molasses will not give you the results you want with your recipes.
Both sulfured and unsulfured molasses can disintegrate when stored where there is a high level of heat and humidity. This usually happens if you happen to have an opened jar that is too old and has not been stored in the right conditions. But, an unopened jar of molasses that has stayed too long and exposed to direct sunlight can also lose its viscosity.
If the molasses develops a watery appearance and is no longer viscous, you should take that as a cue to discard the jar.
Old molasses or a jar that has not been stored in the right conditions can lose its natural moisture. This results in the sweetener developing a crystallized texture that will make it unsuitable to use in recipes. If you encounter this problem, your best bet is to just purchase a new bottle of the sweetener.
4. Off-taste and smell
As we mentioned earlier, molasses can go a long time without tasting or smelling off even when there are other signs of spoilage such as mold. Still, it is not uncommon for this variety of sweetener to develop a subtle off taste or smell if it is well past its best-by date. If this is the case, your bottle of molasses has lost its freshness and it might not be the best for your recipes.
3 Tips To Store Molasses
Want to extend the shelf life of your molasses? Practice good storage conditions and keep an eye on the best-by date to enjoy maximum freshness.
So, what is the right way to store molasses? Here are some best practices:
1. Keep away from direct light
As we mentioned earlier, molasses does not like heat and humidity so the kitchen countertop is not the best place to store your sweetener. Opt instead for a dark, preferably temperature controlled location such as the pantry.
Since most of us use this sweetener only occasionally, it is easy to forget that we have a jar smuggled at the back of the pantry until it is too late. With a product like this, you want to keep track of the best-by date and use it up in your recipes or discard it if it shows signs of spoilage.
2. Leave it in the original packaging
The less you interfere with the molasses, the fresher it is likely to keep. Transferring it from one container to another only introduces bacteria, which can lead to the formation of mold.
Try to store your sweetener in its original container. When you want to use, simply pour out the amount you need or scoop using a clean spoon into a separate bowl and put the rest away.
Remember to wipe down the lips of the bottle or jar containing molasses. This area is exposed to air and moisture is the perfect spot for mold to grow on. Also, be sure to tightly seal the container after every use to keep contaminants away.
3. Avoid refrigerating
Should you refrigerate molasses? That is a common question among home bakers and cooks. While you can refrigerate molasses, this is not entirely the best storage method.
Refrigeration will keep the sweetener in a cool, dark environment and might keep it fresher for slightly longer. But, the low temperatures will cause molasses to lose its viscosity, which means the molasses will be hard to pour out of the jar. You can always warm up the jar in a bowl of warm water to restore the viscosity of the sweetener.
While in the fridge, moisture can also get into your bottle of molasses, which can lead to mold spores contamination. There is also the likelihood of the molasses picking up the smells of other foods in the fridge and the assortment of smells might interfere with the quality of your recipes.
The Risks Of Consuming Contaminated Molasses
With molasses, mold is the most common contaminant you will have to worry about. Some mold spores can be dangerous and when consumed can make you sick.
People who are allergic to mold are at a greater risk of mold-related bacterial infections or respiratory problems caused by inhaling mold spores.
There is no easy way to tell whether the mold in your molasses is poisonous. To be on the safe side, do not use molasses that has mold in it. Cut your losses and replace your sweetener with a new bottle.
If you have had your bottle of molasses for more than two years past the best-by date, it is also a good idea to throw it out and get yourself a fresh bottle. The molasses may not show signs of spoilage but with such an old product, mold can grow at the bottom of the bottle.
Can You Freeze Molasses?
Although you can freeze molasses, it is not the best storage method. Other than it not being the best use of freezer space, you will need to thaw the sweetener at some point and this will easily introduce moisture, increasing the risk for mold spores.
Besides, molasses has such a long life span and will stay good at room temperature for a long time so there is really no need to preserve this stuff through freezing.
In the end, the cons of freezing molasses greatly outdo the pros but if you do decide to freeze your sweetener anyway, you will have to first transfer it to a freezer-safe container.
Please do not place a glass bottle or jar of molasses in the freezer. In cold temperatures, glass can expand and explode, creating a mess in your freezer.
Follow these steps to freeze molasses:
- Pour the molasses into a plastic, freezer-safe container
- Do not fill the container to the brim. Allow space for a vacuum at the top to avoid trapping air at the top of the container.
- Cover the container with an airtight lid and store in the freezer.
- When you are ready to use, take out the container, and leave it out at room temperature or place it in a bowl of warm water for faster thawing.
Molasses has an impressively long shelf-life but it can go bad if exposed to elements such as water, heat, humidity, and air. When molasses does spoil, mold is usually the biggest culprit. You can keep your sweetener fresher for longer by observing basic hygiene and storing it in a temperature-controlled pantry. Freezing or refrigerating molasses is not necessary.