Yesterday was a puttering day. No conferences, no medical appointments, no commitments. Only a lazy, drifting, puttering day! Let’s see. The fridge has already been explored… the pantry, too. The garments closet? Nah, that takes an excessive amount of time and power. Another day, perhaps. Perhaps the kitchen cupboards! Not this one – it’s solely dishes. Extra dishes subsequent. Not . Whoah!??? What are all these issues stacked behind that door? Black pepper. Beef bouillon cubes. Sugar and cinnamon. Ooops. Again off the ground, there are hen bouillon cubes. Italian seasoning. Lemon pepper – want to go away that out. It’s good. Floor nutmeg. Garlic powder. Ah ha!!! Outdated buddy, you’re hiding behind the shelf. You haven’t been seen since Christmas gingerbread cookies two holidays in the past. Come on out, Molasses, and let’s reminisce collectively.
There was a interval within the way of life of the early settlers when molasses and honey have been essential mealtime objects. By means of the nineteenth century, molasses was the preferred sweetener in the USA. Refined sugar, white sugar, was out there towards the top of the century however was way more costly. On the finish of World Warfare 1 the costs dropped dramatically and molasses took a again seat as the popular sweetener. The acquainted burn-off methodology of creating the sweetener continued with some settlers. (This author, when educating within the Sixties, had the chance to take the category to a farm within the Anna neighborhood to watch the household making molasses simply because the pioneers did.)
The old style approach of creating the sweetener was usually an occasion involving neighbors, as a number of folks, often kids, too, have been wanted to man the totally different duties. After all, the preparations started within the spring when the sugar cane seeds have been planted together with potatoes, tomatoes, corn and different backyard crops. The total-grown sugar cane plant would develop taller than the farmer. Within the fall, the leaves of the cane have been clipped off so nothing however the stalk was used within the milling course of. The heads, filled with seeds for subsequent 12 months’s crop, have been lower off and saved.
On the making of the primary batch of molasses, the pit is prepared, the fireplace is began and the woodpile close by is stacked excessive. It takes a gentle fireplace to warmth the brew. The cane stalks piled on one facet will consistently be saved full because the stalks are fed into the mill. After the juice is pressed out, the cane proceeds ahead to the opposite facet. Because the canes gather on the again facet, they have to be eliminated and carried away from the mill. Later, the used stems will likely be used for landscaping, to stop erosion of the soil or another sensible use. This feeding of the stalks is carried out in timing with the mule hitched to the crossbar and consistently strolling the identical path ‘spherical and ‘around the circle permitting the mill to grind the stalks and launch the liquid.
Probably the most skilled employee is required for the stirring of the brew. The juice from the compressed stalks lands in a big kettle over the sluggish, regular fireplace within the pit. The inexperienced liquid within the vat have to be stirred constantly with a wood paddle. Because the juice turns darker, it turns into thicker. From early morning till late within the night, the method continues. Celebration of the primary run of the molasses follows the continual working, watching and ready. Pones of cornbread and potato biscuits coated in candy, thick juice are eaten eagerly.
Molasses as a meals merchandise has been identified to exist in India at round 500 B.C. From this setting it unfold very slowly till the Arab invaders introduced it to Europe through Spain. It turned standard within the West Indies and was offered to England, the place they used it to make rum. In America, it was the sweetener of alternative and was most well-liked by the settlers for enhancing the style of collards, grits, biscuits and cornbread, and even popcorn. The forerunner of pecan pie was naturally the molasses pie. Cooks in North and South Carolina featured molasses of their menu listings: pork cracklings sprinkled on a candy potato and molasses cupcake, or boneless grilled pork chops drizzled with molasses bourbon glaze.
Refineries have been constructed to course of tons of molasses and delivery tankers unloaded incessantly within the coastal states by 1900. Molasses was troublesome to ship safely. The liquid was often housed in barrels, however excessive summer time warmth would trigger the barrels to interrupt open. The barrels needed to be monitored and finally opened whereas in storage. Town of Boston skilled the lethal energy of over-housed molasses on January 15, 1919. Often called the Nice Molasses Flood of 1919, its story was carried later in newspapers to southern Kentucky residents.
In Boston, a cargo of the sugary-sweet contents was saved to be used in producing alcohol for liquor and munitions manufacturing. The syrup was positioned in a 50-foot-tall metal holding tank situated on Business Avenue within the north finish of Boston. The tank usually groaned and had some leakage often. On January 15, the holding tank burst, sending 2.3 million gallons of the sticky substance out into the streets. There was a fifteen-foot wall of the dark-brown sludge protecting the road. Buildings fell, vehicles and vehicles drowned, animals smothered, and other people have been buried, alongside every part else in its path.
So, our buddy, Molasses, you could have fairly a historical past within the settling of this new world in addition to your existence in Europe and Asia. Earlier than you go, let me ask, “What’s the distinction between sorghum and molasses? Are they the identical?” They’re processed equally however sorghum is constituted of sorghum cane and molasses is constituted of sugar cane or sugar beets. Sorghum is often extra flavorful whereas molasses is thicker, inexpensive, and nice for baking.
Thanks, Molasses, for a nice day of puttering. In right this moment’s world you’ll most likely nonetheless be positioned sooner or later on the again of the kitchen shelf, however nothing can take away the worth you could have had and nonetheless have.
-by Mary Alice Oliver
Concerning the Writer: Mary Alice Oliver is a Bowling Inexperienced native who’s a 1950 graduate of Bowling Inexperienced Excessive College. She retired from Warren County Faculties after 40 years in training. Visiting acquainted websites, researching historic data and sharing reminiscences with mates are her passions.