The quest for Russian molasses
November 12, 2008 4:06 AM   Subscribe

Меласса в Москве?

Leaving for Moscow this Friday, and one of the things I'm packing along with me is a bottle of regular ol' blackstrap molasses for my sister in law. It seems inconthievable that there's no place in Moscow to purchase what I understand to be molasses, though, and I'd love to give the name/location of a store for when she runs out. So, Mefites:

1) Is the molasses I grew up with here in the states the same thing as Меласса?;
2) Is there anyplace in Moscow to purchase the stuff? (inlaws live inside the ring road, near Mayakovskaya);
3) What should I not miss in Moscow next week? I visited once, a very long time ago, but didn't really have the ability to do anything on my own.

posted by Emperor SnooKloze to Food & Drink (8 answers total)
I don't live in Moscow, having only visited, but from my experience the best way to get the molasses you're familiar with is to hit a foreign food store. There seems to be a chain in Moscow called Globus Market - there are three locations listed here. Calling them to ask about North American style molasses will get you a definite answer before you make the trip.
posted by jedrek at 5:04 AM on November 12, 2008

You might have better luck if you look for патока or кормовая патока, which is the Russian term I generally associate for molasses. Not sure if it's exactly the same thing.
posted by nasreddin at 7:30 AM on November 12, 2008

Molasses is a byproduct of sugar production, so it's a given that it will exist anywhere that processed sugar exists. BUT, I suspect most sugar in Russia is produced from beets, not cane, so it is probably going to taste different.
posted by nomisxid at 8:49 AM on November 12, 2008

I'm not familiar with Moscow, but I know in Saint Petersburg there were a few large "western food stores," much like the Russian food stores you would find in New York and Boston. They had peanut butter, for example, so I would imagine they might carry molasses. I'd be surprised if there wasn't one in Moscow somewhere....
posted by zizzle at 8:57 AM on November 12, 2008

There is an excellent (and huge) supermarket chain in Moscow called Auchan. Best selection and prices I found while I lived there, and truly massive.
posted by fake at 9:53 AM on November 12, 2008

'Blackstrap molasses' is highly evocative, isn't it?

Too bad it tastes so terrible. Bakers generally only use first or second molasses (see nomisxid's link) because of the unflavorable qualities of blackstrap. According to my old (1964) Joy of Cooking:

Blackstrap molasses is a waste product. It is the result of a third boiling-- with more sugar crystals extracted; and is unpalatable.

It has something of a reputation as a medicinal, I think because of its poor flavor, but possibly for its high iron content-- which comes not from the sugarcane, but from the iron vessels in which it is prepared.
posted by jamjam at 10:13 AM on November 12, 2008

Nasreddin's right with the word, but when I was in Voronezh in 2004, all of the Russians I knew said they used to be able to buy it but wouldn't know where to look now.
posted by msbrauer at 3:32 PM on November 12, 2008

Cuba is the epicenter of all things sugarcane related, including molasses (Bacardi considered Cuban molasses the secret of the excellence of their rum, for example), and though you can't get it here in the US, it's one of the exports specifically mentioned in trade agreements between Cuba and Russia.

I wouldn't be surprised if you could get some of the very best molasses in the world in Russia by seeking out molasses of Cuban origin.
posted by jamjam at 10:11 AM on November 13, 2008

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