Monday, February 15, 2016

A sweet taste of our history

When we were eating the Valentine's Day dinner earlier this week, William, who's 21, said — as he was dipping fresh biscuits into a small bowl of molasses — "I don't know why people complain that they had to eat molasses as children because they were poor. Molasses is awesome!"

We all agreed because the biscuits and molasses were one of the highlights of the meal.

Later, William asked where molasses comes from and we talked about that a bit. But today, I looked up a few more details.

Of course, being Maritimers, we've always insisted on Crosby's molasses:

In 1879, at the tender age of 20, Lorenzo George Crosby opened a grocery business in the bustling port town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. An enterprising youth, L.G. quickly established himself as an entrepreneur in the import/export trade industry, transporting Maritime fish and lumber to the West Indies and returning with puncheons filled with that “liquid gold” known as fancy molasses. And so the Crosby Molasses Company was born. The rest, as they say, is sweet history. In 1897, Crosby Molasses relocated to Saint John, New Brunswick—a larger, more centrally-located harbour town.

Molasses was a staple in our house growing up. Dad always liked a sweet after dinner and if there were no cookies or cake or a piece of pie, he would have a slice of bread (homemade, of course) and a small bowl of molasses and he considered that a dessert fit for a King.

Dan's brother John also enjoys biscuits in a bowl with some molasses poured over as a sweet treat. In fact, when we go to Chives where Chef Craig Flinn has popularized fresh biscuits with molasses, John always saves his until the end of the meal and woe to the server who tries to take it away in a regular table-clearing move.

In many houses — including my Auntie Blanche's in Newcastle Creek, where we always ate so well — molasses was on the table with the salt and pepper, a bowl of sugar, maybe a small pot of mustard. I remember it on the table in some restaurants also in this kind of dispenser:

We always have a carton of molasses in our cupboard. It's mostly used for the Christmas baking — dark fruitcake, the fruchtplätzchen cookies I make every year.

My mother always used it when she was making baked beans from scratch, in a crock like this:

I've made baked beans in a crock but, like Mum, I discovered it's a lot easier and less time-consuming to open a can. Even with the can though, I sometimes fry some onions and bacon, add a little mustard, tomato sauce and molasses and stir that into beans from a can. It surely tarts them up and makes them much more exciting.

I didn't used to be good baking biscuits. I envied those people who could bake them so they'd rise nice and high and be nice and light. Mine weren't. Dan's late Mom told me I probably didn't have my oven hot enough. But I've stopped making the kind that you roll and cut out into circles. The ones I make now are dropped from a spoon on to the baking sheet and the bumpy irregular tops get nice and brown and crunchy. They seem to rise just fine. Sometimes I put cheese and/or herbs into them and sometimes I don't.

Oh yes, to answer William's original question:

Molasses is made from the juice extracted from mature sugar cane. It is then clarified and evaporated to the consistency of a syrup, possessing a rich colour and a sweet-tart taste. The molasses is then fine-filtered and pasteurized resulting in a pure, sweet product.

There is only one ingredient listed on the Crosby’s Molasses carton: molasses. That’s because molasses is a pure product with absolutely no additives or preservatives. Molasses is a source of many minerals. It is a natural, wholesome sweetener and is a delicious addition to sweet and savoury recipes.

1 comment:

  1. Another way I liked my molasses was when we had bacon or pork fat, we would pour some of the melted fat on a dish and add molasses which we dipped our home made bread into, soooo yummy.\