Wednesday, October 03, 2007


My blood hasn't been rich enough lately for the vampires, who favor salty & ironic flavors. So today I bought myself a bottle of Plantation blackstrap molasses -- while wondering what marketing manager was naive enough to think the name Plantation wasn't, at the very least, encumbered with much too heavy a load of historical baggage.

Blackstrap molasses -- according to Everyday Foods, and my mother's copy of Joy, and Harold McGee, too -- is better for fattening cattle than feeding to people. It's the final by-product of sugar production. After cane syrup has been boiled and evaporated down three times, dark sticky mineral-rich blackstrap is left behind. What primarily interests me is the fact that 1 tablespoon has 20% of your recommended daily iron intake, plus calcium, potassium, magnesium, and chromium (do keep in mind that iron from vegetable sources isn't as readily absorbed as that from animal sources). The flavor has all the rich intensity of the deep caramelization found in roasted coffee, seared meats, licorice, and dark chocolate, along with a downright metallic zing of particular interest to the bloodthirsty anemics among us. I put blackstrap on ice cream, cornbread, pumpkin pie, porridge, sweet potatoes, yogurt, and bananas, and drizzle it into stir-fries and baked beans with some cider vinegar.

Incidentally, a good friend of mine is lucky enough to come from a sprawling old Mennonite family with its very own Tigermilk recipe for the nutriment of its pregnant women. It includes both blackstrap molasses and orange juice -- a shocking combination until you consider that their babes are all healthy, and vitamin C helps with iron absorption. I plan to track down the recipe someday when it's needful. In the meantime, let us toast the vampires with shots of blackstrap and join in that rousing old chorus:

I gave myself to sin
And I've been there and back again
I gave myself to Providence
The state that I am in

No comments: