Down-home with Melissa--Slow as Molasses

by By Melissa Garrison
Melissa Garrison Melissa Garrison

October is here, leaves are falling and the fall activities are in full swing. My husband and I visited the Molasses cook off on Saturday. As I’m writing, I can still recall the smell of molasses in the steam that was rolling off of the cooker. Leah and Jim Cornett had lots of family and friends helping them prepare the sweet syrup. The process is a long one. First they plant the cane in June, then they harvest it, several moths later it will be ready to cut. They have all horse drawn equipment being used to plant, plow, and harvest. They began around 7:30 in the morning by adding cane juice to the wood fired cooker. The consistent stirring prevents scorching. They were constantly skimming to get unwanted residue from the finished product. When the desired thickness was achieved, around 5-6 hours later, the molasses would then be poured from the cooker. You’ve probably heard the term “Slow as molasses.” I watched as they tested it for sugar content while cooking. 72 or higher sugar content is necessary. The warmth from the cooker felt cozy with the sweet smell blowing in the wind. This made me think of the time and patience that this process has to have. Most people wouldn’t take the time to stand in front of a hot cooker for hours to make anything. They would just go to the store and buy it. That shows me the character of these farmers. The work ethic and the desire to teach about farming and what it takes to make it work. I was entirely impressed by the whole process. Even more so impressed with the ones cooking. Did you know that there was once a molasses flood? It was In 1919 Boston Massachusetts. A large storage tank filled with 2.3 million gallons of molasses, burst and ran into the streets at around 35 mph! 21 people were killed and 150 injured. The rupture of the tank was most likely due to the temperature of newly added molasses to the older, causing expansion. Interesting story to look up! My grandpa said that he likes add baking soda to molasses on the stove, to create the foam and eat with his biscuits. He also used to make molasses in the Danger Branch where he was raised. If you’d like to see the molasses or sourgum making process, pay them a visit the next two Saturdays on the 638 loop in Fogertown . There is a corn maze and concession stand to enjoy as well! I love to be educated. They love to educate, so I know you’ll take something from watching this process. And don’t forget to bring some home with you!

Good things take time.