Sugar Talk Sugar Talk Sugar talk logo

Black syrup like treacle being poured into a vessel

Black treacle in granular detail

18/04/2024 By Ibrahim Belo in Products

Black treacle is a thick, dark syrup with a bittersweet taste that performs a range of functions in both sweet and savoury food applications, and in the brewing process. Black treacle is not the same as molasses, though they share some of the same characteristics.

In this blog, we take a closer look at black treacle: what it is, how it is made and manufactured, its benefits, how it is used, how it should be stored, and how it differs from molasses.

What is black treacle?

Black treacle is an uncrystallised syrup that today is manufactured from molasses and an invert sugar syrup called refiners syrup. It is almost black in colour and has a thick, sticky consistency. In the UK, the word ‘treacle’ is generally used in reference to black treacle. However, another liquid sweetener, golden syrup, is sometimes referred to as ‘light treacle’ due to its colour.

A dark black liquid running through a tube or funnel

Black treacle is widely available through retail and bulk supply. It is a functional ingredient used by industrial food and beverage manufacturers, as well as by cooks at home.

Black treacle has a long history. The earliest form of treacle was used as a remedy for poisonous bites. In the early 19th Century, it was used to preserve meat. Increasingly commercialised, black treacle is now widely available via retail and bulk supply as an ingredient for both industrial use and in the home. Today, black treacle has many applications, which we outline below.

How is black treacle made?

Black treacle is a byproduct of the sugarcane refining process with other ingredients added. It is the syrup that is left behind after boiling the raw sugar with added invert sugar syrup. The process of making black treacle begins in the mill. The leaves are removed from the sugarcane and the sugarcane is crushed to extract the juice. The juice is boiled until crystals form. It is then boiled a few more times, leaving behind amassecuite syrup. This syrup is placed in a centrifuge and spun to separate the sugar crystals and the molasses. 

A series of centrifuge machines in a factory setting

Massecuite syrup is placed in a centrifuge and spun to separate the sugar crystals and the molasses.

Ragus manufactures black treacle in bulk in our state-of-the-art facility in Slough. The cane molasses arrives at the facility in temperature-controlled tankers before being transferred into large evaporation pans where it is heated to over 80˚C to purify it. Next, the cane molasses is blended with refiners syrup. The result is black treacle. The treacle is passed through an 80-micron filter to remove any unwanted particles. It is then ready for packing and transporting to its destination.

As black treacle retains a high proportion of molasses, its nutritional profile is rich compared to many other sugar products. For example, it contains iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin B6.

Is black treacle molasses?

Is black treacle the same as molasses is a commonly asked question. Black treacle owes its jet-black colour to molasses. Though similar in appearance and viscosity, black treacle and molasses are not the same. Black treacle is a blend of cane molasses and invert sugar syrup or refiners syrup. The two products also have different flavour profiles and production processes.

Thick, black syrup (left), thick golden syrup (right).

Left: Black treacle is an uncrystallised syrup that is now manufactured from molasses and an invert sugar syrup called refiners syrup.
Right: Refiners syrup is used in the making of black treacle.

The functional benefits of black treacle

In addition to being rich in nutrients, black treacle has many functional benefits that make it useful for food and beverage manufacturers and brewers. Though primarily used as a sweetener in sauces, marinades, desserts and baked goods, black treacle is a humectant that helps foods retain moisture. This means it also acts as a preservative, extending shelf life. Christmas cake recipes often contain black treacle to prevent them from drying out.

The intense dark colour and smooth viscosity of black treacle means it is used to enhance colour and mouthfeel, while its singular, rounded flavour enriches foods like gingerbread and beverages like stouts and porters. The colour and flavour of black treacle makes it particularly suitable for Christmas puddings, liquorice and gingerbread. It deepens the colour of products it is used in, acting as a natural colourant.

Black treacle applications

Black treacle is used in applications such as:

  • Sauces and marinades for fish and meat

  • Glazes on meats, such as gammon

  • Confectionary, such as liquorice and toffee

  • Desserts like Christmas pudding, treacle tart, sticky toffee pudding

  • Baked goods like parkin, gingerbread, fruit cakes, muffins, cookies, treacle scones

  • Breads, where a darker colour or flavour is required

  • Brewing beers, ales, porters or stouts

Quality control in manufacturing black treacle

Ragus manufactures black treacle in bulk for industry, mixing the cane molasses with refiners syrup to create a stable product that can be used in many applications. We supply black treacle in bulk containers or tankers depending on the location and consult on how best to store and transport it. As a product, black treacle can be stored without the risk of crystallisation or microbial spoilage for up to 18 months if kept in a dry location at temperatures between 15⁰C and 20⁰C.

Blue pails being loaded into or out of a factory

Ragus supplies black treacle in bulk, transporting it in intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) or tankers depending on the location.

As with every product Ragus manufactures, quality control and responsible sourcing are an important part of our processes. Learn more about how Ragus sources the raw sugar that goes into making our black treacle.

Consumer market trends: black treacle

The global market for black treacle is expected to grow, with a compound annual growth rate of 5% between now and 2033. Demand for black treacle is rising, with increasing use applications across the food and brewing industries, and specifically in baked goods and confectionery. As sugar consumption continues to rise globally, production will need to keep pace. This will mean that black treacle, a byproduct of the sugar refining process, can be manufactured in ever larger quantities at ease for food and beverage manufacturers.

From a consumer perspective, black treacle has many appealing attributes. It does not contain any artificial preservatives or colouring, and is a natural colourant, humectant and food preservation aid. It also offers nutritional value. This makes it appealing to health-conscious consumers who want to buy more natural sweetening agents that offer food value and are stable and easy to use in a range of applications.

Ragus manufactures high-quality black treacle in bulk for use in industrial applications. To learn more about our sugars and syrups, contact our Customer Services Team. For more sugar news and updates, continue browsing SUGARTALK and follow Ragus on LinkedIn.

Ibrahim Belo

With a primary responsibility for manufactured product quality control, Ibrahim works within our supplier chain, factory and production laboratory. He has a focus on continuous improvement, implementing and maintaining our technical and quality monitoring processes, ensuring standards and product specifications are met.

View more