Goldsaft: Like Molasses, But Not Quite

From the Department of Substitutes: It’s the time of year for gingerbread. I’m a fan of Pfefferkuchen, and don’t even get me started on Swedish Pepparkakor; but a big tray of hot American-style gingerbread is hard to beat. Only trouble is, you need molasses.

goldsaftI’ve read here and there on line that Goldsaft makes a marvelous substitute. You’ll typically see this in yellow containers in the honey section of the grocery store, produced by a company called Grafshafter; it’s a cooked and concentrated sugar beet syrup, often used straight on bread instead of butter, or in baking as a sweetener. So I gave it a try, using the regular version, rather than the Karamell (a different mixture of fruit sugar, grape sugar, and sucrose).

The stuff itself is very molasses-y in texture, smooth and thick and very sweet. Very, very sweet. But it doesn’t have quite the burnt caramelized taste that I’m used to. Without any guidance, I used a one-for-one substitution ratio for the molasses in this gingerbread recipe here, which wound up being more Goldsaft than I actually had in the container I’d bought; so I filled in with honey.

The verdict? I don’t buy it as a perfect substitute. The gingerbread I made had, in my opinion, a sickly-sweet aftertaste that didn’t match what I was looking for. The Goldsaft was a slightly wrong kind of sweet. But that’s just one opinion. Several other people that tried the outcome said they liked it, although granting that it didn’t quite taste like gingerbread should.

At an Arabian deli the other day, I spied different types of molasses made from grapes and carob. Maybe next time I’ll give those a try.

Any readers that have recommendations for what to do with Goldsaft, let us know in the comments section.


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14 Responses to “Goldsaft: Like Molasses, But Not Quite”

  1. This would explain why I haven’t had such great results when using it on my hair.

  2. Goldsaft is basically “vegan honey”. Not that there are many German vegans, or even vegetarians in – so I assume it’s some left-over from wartime (and GDR) production, which still has its fans. Like the way 99% of British ‘ice-cream’ packaging until the late-1980s contained the small print note ‘made from non-milk fat’. Not that it was intended for vegans, but a left-over from war-time legislation, rationing, and the desire for companies to make as much money as possible. Research will probably prove that 65% of honey sold in Britain is actually Goldsaft. And why not?

  3. well well well. personally, I’d say Goldsaft goes on grey rye bread not instead of butter but like honey. Best on top of quark or fresh (Philadelphia) cheese.
    Also, it is a must and very good condiment for Reibekuchen (potatoe pancakes).
    And I admit that I’ve very successfully used it as molasses-substitute in my germanyfied version of an american pumpkin-pie recipe, not being able to find any of the ingredients on my list. Like: can of squash? (cook my own squash) pumpkin pie spice? (use Lebkuchengewürz instead) etc. It’s probably not very American, but boy, does it taste fine! I like it. And so did my niece, who was just old enough to hold her own spoon.

  4. Oh and by the way. I went to the Thusnelda-market as promised last Wednesday. I’ll write something up and send it to you asap. What adress should I use? cheers!

  5. I have used it to make barbecue sauce in the past, as a substitute for molasses. Like you experienced, wasn’t 100% right, but was pretty close.

  6. I was quite charmed by the Kartoffelpuffer with Zuckerrübensirup I had at a fair in the Moselle river valley — might sound a bit perverse, but the syrup did offset the crisp edges nicely.

    Do post if you find a good source for American-style molasses in Berlin!

  7. Oh, that’s complicated. Did you have a look at wikipedia about molasses? I was looking into that stuff a few weeks ago and was left confused. Molasses is actually a term used in sugar production and fits to a whole variety of things. In general it’s the leftovers of crystallization of sugar out of sugar cane or sugar beet syrup which are NOT able to crystallize any more. The dark ‘n’ dirty stuff at the bottom so to say. But Manufacturers would call some of their unrefined and unfiltered crystallized cane sugars “Molasses” which is the “popular” use of the word that most of us know. Anyways, I was trying a German Lebkuchen recipe from the 50s a while ago and – instead of brown molassy sugar like demerara or muscovado – they ask for Apfelkraut. I found it in the Bioladen. It’s actually darf brown thickened apple juice, almost like a super strong apple jam, traditionally made around the city of Cologne, like in Bergisches Land for example. The Grafschafter company is in that area as well. Looks like they really like their dark brown sirupy supersweet spreads there. It goes on bread, e.g. the famous Grafschafter Goldsaft – beet sugar syrup – on Graham bread (yuck, but praised by German Comedian Helge Schneider) or on waffles (so-so). The dark apple sirup, Apfelkraut, is kind of ok though, maybe worth a try, although it’s not very similar to Molasses, but gives the Lebkuchen a nice sour and fruity touch.

    I sent an email to Grafschafter a few weeks ago asking what they would recommend as a substitute for Golden Syrup. Wikipedia says that chemically spoken, Golden Syrup and Grafschafter Goldsaft have a lot in common (well, apart from taste). The guy at Grafschafter suggested some of their clear syrups, but you wouldn’t be able to get them in Berlin because they are kind of local Rhineland stuff.

    So much for sugar :-)


  8. Sorry for the late comment-approving, everyone. I got distracted and forgot I had to push the button.

    Thomas: Thanks for the all the info. Maybe we’ll have to make trip south to try the mystery syrups.

    BerlinReified: I’ll definitely do another molasses post, shopping a little farther afield.

    Bowleserized: I was shocked, shocked when researching this stuff to find that people actually use molasses in hair. The world is always stranger than I have imagined…

    Bleistifterin: Send us your market review at, minus the nospammy bits, and we’ll post it as a reader’s review. But can we also post your pumpkin pie recipe? It’s time to get our Thanksgiving on.

    KMS: This is my problem with vegans. How can honey not be vegan? Are there bee bits in it? :)

    Sean: Mmmm, BBQ sauce. That just shot to first on my list.

  9. Not exactly Molasses, but along he same lines. I’ve been looking for Treacle for my English Chrismas Cake. Any ideas where I can buy it, or whether Goldsaft would be a good substiute.

  10. Katie: A good bet would probably be Broken English on Körtestr 10, in Kreuzberg. They carry most traditional English goodies (mince pies, PG Tips, and so on), according to their Web site ( Although I can’t find treacle on the list, I’m guessing that if they don’t have it, they can either get it for you or tell you where to go.

    And I have no idea what an English Christmas Cake is…care to share the recipe with the HIB crew? Thanks!

  11. Gotcher treacle right here, Katie:

    Possibly there’s some on sale here in Berlin, but you’re probably just as well off ordering it from this British shop in Cologne unless the postage is prohibitive.

  12. Oh, Christmas Cake! It’s a hardcore fruitcake coated with marzipan and then royal icing. You can make it months in advance.

  13. Broken English the shop has more things in it than Broken English the website, I forgot to add.

  14. katie, treacle found for sure! Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Lyle’s Black Treacle sitting on a shelf waiting for you at Goldhahn & Sampson, Dunckerstrasse 9, right near Helmholzplatz. Look for a post on this up-and-coming store!

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