Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kitchen Staple: Molasses

Well, this isn't really a kitchen staple for me, but it's one I like to have on hand during this season. I am a huge fan of gingerbread and molasses cookies so it's really nice to have this. It begins with a local ingredient called chaaku or gud. Most little shops that sell a variety of dry goods will carry it, although there seem to be special times (like January) when it becomes easier to find.

1 small block/ball chaaku
2-4 Tablespoons water

Place the block into a pot and add 2 tablespoons water. Over low heat, stirring occasionally, heat the mixture to melt it. If it seems too thick, add additional water. The trick is to add enough water that the mixture will remain a syrup rather than returning to a block state. It does not usually take more than 1/4 cup, but you want it to look watery enough that you know it could never be solid again so add whatever you need to accomplish that. Once it is sufficiently thinned and melted together, pour through a strainer into a jar and store at room temperature. Mine usually lasts for months without going bad.

Note: You may find sticks, stones, and all kinds of other weird stuff when the block melts. Molasses is near the very end of the sugar making process so it's the bottom of the barrel so to speak. It's loaded with minerals so I find I can look past the weirdness. Just strain it before you jar it.

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