Does Molasses Go Bad?

So you needed some blackstrap molasses for that gingerbread recipe you wanted to test out. You’ve bought a bottle, baked the gingerbread and it turned out okay, nothing spectacular.

Now, more than a few months have passed and you haven’t baked any gingerbread since that first try. You want to give it a go one more time, but first, you need to know if molasses does go bad.

That’s a quite common scenario because most people use molasses only in a handful of recipes, like gingerbread or barbecue sauce.

If that’s the case, and you’re looking for some information on storage, shelf life, and signs of going bad of molasses, this article is for you.

Sugar beet molasses on a spoon
Sugar beet molasses on a spoon

How To Store Molasses

You store molasses pretty much the same way you store sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.

That means it you should keep it in a cool and dry place. The pantry is the best choice, but the kitchen will work too. Keeping it in a place where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate much will help a bit as well.

Once you open the bottle, the most important thing to remember is to keep it sealed tightly when not in use.

In case you were wondering, there’s no need to refrigerate molasses after opening. Keeping it in the fridge will help retain the quality for a bit longer, but you do it at a cost. Have you ever heard the saying “slow as molasses in January?”. Molasses is viscous at room temperature, and if you put it into the fridge, well, it becomes even more so.

Tip

To reduce the thickness of cold molasses, you can either pull it out of the fridge a few hours before you need it or heat the whole bottle or jar in a pot of warm water.

Molasses in a white bowl
Molasses in a white bowl

How Long Does Molasses Last

There are a lot of opinions when it comes to the shelf life of this sweetener. It seems that each producer and molasses user has one of their own.

There’s a reason for that: it’s difficult to say how long does molasses last.

Of course, many bottles come with a best-by date, but that date is only an educated guess of how long the product will retain the best quality. And when it comes to molasses and other sweeteners like corn syrup, that date as often as not has little to with reality.

In other words, molasses stays safe to consume and of good quality for months past the date on the label. If there’s no date on the label, you can quite safely assume that it will last for at least 2 years from buying it.

As I mentioned, it’s not easy to point out how long molasses lasts. In most cases, you will decide to throw it out for quality purposes, not because it’s spoiled. That means it’ll be still safe to consume, but the taste won’t quite be there, and the recipes flavored with it will come out somewhat bland.

Because of that, treat the dates below as approximate and for best quality only. Molasses, if you store it properly, will last for much longer than that.

 Pantry
Molasses (Unopened)Best By + 2 years
Molasses (Opened)Best By + 1 year
Molasses
(credit:technicool)

How To Tell If Molasses Is Bad

Unlike honey, molasses doesn’t last forever. It can spoil eventually, but that often takes like 10 years or so.

The signs of molasses going bad are pretty typical. Those include spots of mold, unpleasant smell, or altered taste. Watch out especially for signs of mold, as they can be really tiny and difficult to spot once they first form.

If you’re not quite sure how molasses should taste and smell, well, the easiest way is to open a new bottle, and give it a good sniff and taste some. This way you will know what to expect.

If the liquid looks like it’s supposed to and smells okay, feel free to taste it. It’s most likely perfectly safe to eat and usually, the worst-case scenario here is that you’ll eat molasses that tastes not-that-great.

If it tastes just fine, feel free to use in your next gingerbread project. Otherwise, it’s better to get rid of it for quality purposes.

Last but not least, if you notice that something about the molasses is wrong, get rid of it. Even if you’re not quite sure what that is. Humans are quite good at spotting food that’s unsafe to eat. So if something tells you that there’s something wrong with the product, cut your losses and throw it out.