Sugar Beet Molasses

Miscellaneous - Turkey

While grape molasses is very common in Thrace regions of northeastern Turkey, such as Tekirdag and Edirne, instead in Kırklareli, molasses is made from sugar beet. This is a result of widespread sugar beet cultivation in Kırklareli, and especially Poyralı Village is famous for its sugar beet molasses made with traditional methods. Production is still non-mechanized, and the production process takes place in certain periods, usually throughout autumn. In order to keep large containers boiling, a wood-burning fire is needed. This allows the product to survive in forest villages, because they do not have to pay for wood, making the production more sustainable for them. In Poyralı Village, sugar beet molasses is produced with imece (the term for traditional collective work in Anatolian villages), and sometimes with common production facilities that are shared between a few families who work together.   First, sugar beets are collected from the field, bought home and then washed completely. Their peels are removed with special knives, and the beets are cut into pieces. Some people have started using simple meat grinders for this step. Then, the sugar beets are put into deep container filled with water (in a 1:1 ratio) and placed over a wood fire until tender, which takes 3-5 hours. The softened sugar beets are collected from the water and put into containers with juice extractors. The juice is collected in large, wide cooking trays and cooked over a wood fire. While the fire is continuously fed, the juice is mixed with large slotted spoons in order to control its consistency. Early on, some water is added when the juice reduces. Foams that form on top are removed with spoons. In the last two hours of boiling, no water is added and the density of molasses is controlled from time to time. When its color turns reddish and then dark yellow, it means that molasses is ready. Finally, the consistency is checked by putting a small drop on a porcelain plate. The total boiling periods lasts about four hours. Boiled molasses is left to cool down at room temperature on wide trays before being stored in closed containers for winter consumption.   Sugar beet molasses is only produced at homes or family farms, but some of these groups sell their excess product at local markets or online in small quantities. In general, each local household produces around 80 kg per year. However, just like in other rural areas of Turkey, migration to cities is the most significant threat to this product. Younger generations aim to live in Istanbul, and farming activities do not appeal to them. As the population left in the area gets older, the physical effort required to make sugar beet molasses becomes difficult. Furthermore, producers do not have production licenses and cannot access larger markets. Its price is very low in comparison to other molasses varieties found on the market because it is difficult to effectively promote the product to a wider audience.