Molasses Making at Grover Starcher's at Hur. Late
1930's or Early 1940's. (Photo Courtesy of Hur Herald)
Well that time of the year that I like best is in the Fall when the mule walks 'round the press and the pretty girls put on their gingham dress, by and by. - "Old Cane Press" Robert Johnson
By Bob Weaver
Living at the end of the agricultural era in Calhoun where life was centered on the farm and molasses making was a community affair - "labor intensive."
Turning a patch of sugar cane into molasses required a lot of family and neighbors, the hard work softened into a social event.
Most every farm grew a patch of sugar cane, with molasses considered a staple for farm cooking.
Alva Bell and Grover Starcher were noted molasses makers in the greater Hur community, traveling from farm to farm with their mill and horse.
The horse would travel in an endless circle to turn the grinding mill, squeezing the sugar from the cane.
The squeezings were then put into cooking trays, heated by a wood fire, for the stir-off, a term used for slowly boiling the juice and skimming off the impurities until the molasses becomes that delicious dark, sweet caramel colored nectar.
The process required hours of dedication, giving time for the farm women to talk and the children to play.
An admonition to kids was "Don't fall in the skimmin hole," where the leftovers spilled from the cooking tray.
The final step was to place the molasses in jars for use during the winter.
The sweetener was used in lots of cooking projects, although at times it was just heated and mixed with butter for dipping biscuits.
Most memorable, molasses cookies and taffy.
Of course you can run down to the store and buy some molasses made in a foreign county.