Molasses is very versatile and can be used for many different things from meat glazes to flavoring ice cream. If you keep a jar on hand for its myriad of uses, you may be wondering if it goes bad. Read on to find out.
According to the USDA, if molasses is unopened, it can last up to 12 months. Once it has been opened, it is recommended you keep it for about 6 months to get the best quality out of it. A best by date is not the same as expiration date, and molasses can and does last longer than the date stamped on the container, especially if it has been unopened, properly sealed, and properly stored.
To keep your molasses lasting as long as possible, it is important to store it properly and know the signs that your molasses has gone bad.
Does Molasses Go Bad? How Long Does Molasses Last?
You can store molasses in a few different ways: the pantry, in the refrigerator, or the freezer. Let’s explore the benefits of all three.
How Long Does Molasses Last Outside?
Molasses can be kept at room temperature in a pantry, a cupboard, or on the counter. Once opened, there is no need to refrigerate it.
As long as the molasses is tightly sealed to reduce exposure to air it can have a relatively long shelf life. It can last up to 12 months.
This applies to all types of molasses: light, dark, sulfured, and unsulfured. Heat and humidity pose the biggest threats to molasses so be sure to keep it in a dry place.
How Long Does Molasses Last In The Refrigerator?
It is not necessary to refrigerate molasses even if has been opened. Doing so does not add enough time to the shelf life to make it worth it.
Molasses is very viscous when it is at room temperature. Putting it in the refrigerator causes it to become even more so. This can be an inconvenience if you want to use it immediately.
If you choose to store molasses in the refrigerator, it will likely need to be warmed before it can be used. This can be done by letting it sit out for a few hours, or warming it in warm water.
How Long Does Molasses Last In The Freezer?
Since molasses can last so long, there is not much need for freezing it. It does not extend the shelf life so storing it in the freezer, it will remain good for about 12 months.
As previously mentioned, molasses can be good for quite some time past the best by date when stored correctly, and storing it in the freezer will have a shelf life similar to keeping it at room temperature.
Similar to keeping it in the refrigerator, you will need to know ahead of time when you are going to use it and prepare by letting it come to room temperature first.
How To Tell If Molasses Has Gone Bad/How To Know if Molasses Is Fresh
From my research, I have found out it is very difficult to tell if molasses has gone bad. There are a couple of tell-tale signs to look out for. Let’s start with what fresh molasses should be like.
Light Molasses: Light molasses is generally the sweetest of the types of molasses and is light in color.
Medium or Dark Molasses: Medium or dark molasses should be dark in color, thick consistency, have a hint of bitterness, and be a little less sweet.
Blackstrap Molasses: Blackstrap molasses, living up to its name, should be very dark in color. This is the least sweet type of molasses and has a strong bittersweet flavor and a heady aroma.
Here are some things to look for when trying to determine whether or not your molasses has gone bad.
Check the date: While the date on the container is only a best by date, it’s a great place to start when deciding if it’s still good to use. If too much time has passed since the date, it might be best to get a new jar.
Look at it: If you check the molasses and it seems like it has separated, it is probably past its prime and it should be tossed.
Check for mold: Mold can grow on molasses especially if it is exposed to heat and humidity. If you spot even the tiniest spot of mold, get rid of the whole container.
How To Store Molasses
Molasses can last a long time as long as it is stored properly.
Store in a cool, dry place: Store your molasses whether it is opened or unopened in a cool and dry place with a stable temperature.
Avoid heat and humidity: Heat and humidity cause molasses to go bad faster as they can cause bacteria to grow into mold.
Keep it in the original container: Avoid moving it between containers because that can introduce bacteria that can lead to it growing mold.
Keep it tightly sealed: Keeping your molasses sealed up tight will help it last. Air can cause it to dry out.
Can You Freeze Molasses?
While there is not much reason to do so, and it is the least popular method of storage for molasses, you can freeze it. There seem to be more cons to freezing molasses than there are pros. We are going to explore some here.
It won’t freeze completely: The sugars in molasses lower the freezing point preventing the molasses from freezing solid.
Lower quality upon thawing: When you freeze molasses, as you try to thaw it out, what was once a smooth liquid will be grainy and have sugar crystals. This is similar to when honey crystallizes.
Increased viscosity: Molasses is already a very viscous substance. When it becomes cold, it is even more so and if you want to use it, it would have to be thawed.
If you decide to freeze molasses, there are a couple of things you can do to make it easier.
Portion it out: Freeze the molasses in small portions. Freezing it in one-half cup portions will make it easier to use what you need when you need it.
How To Thaw Molasses
If you have decided to store molasses, you are going to need to know how to thaw it out.
Let it sit out: If you are not going to need it right away, you can remove it from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature overnight. It should be ready to go by morning.
Warm bath: If you are going to need it to be ready quickly, you can fill a sink with warm water and let the molasses sit in the warm bath. This will help it warm up quicker and help some of the crystallized sugar return to liquid.
Frequently Asked Questions About Molasses’s Shelf Life
What are sulfured and unsulfured molasses and does one last longer?: Unsulfured molasses is extracted from mature sugarcane. The juice is clarified and concentrated resulting in thicker and sweeter molasses. Sulfured molasses is made from less mature sugarcane so sulfur dioxide is added as a preservative. The sulfur dioxide can slightly alter the flavor but does not affect the shelf life in any way.
Can expired molasses make you sick? It should not. The main risk of expired molasses is lower quality and degraded taste. Even past the “best by” date, it should be safe for consumption. If you notice mold on the molasses don’t eat it. In case of accidental consumption, the bacteria that caused the mold to grow can make you ill.
Molasses can be used in several different ways. Now you know how long it lasts and the best ways to store it to get the best quality out of this sweet treat.