Category Archives: Sorghum

Sorghum

Sorghum is, generally speaking, something you only see in households in the upper Midwest. Sorghum, like sugar cane or wheat, is a grass. It produces heads the size of corn ears that contain small seeds, about the size of millet. Farmers once grew sorghum for cattle feed. The grain itself is nutritious, and the stalks can be stored and fermented into silage, i.e. edible compost that cows can live on during the winter.

Yet sorghum stalks have uses for humans too. Like sugar cane they can be broken up and boiled to extract their sap, which can then be reduced into syrup. Like cane juice, sorghum sap is composed primarily of sucrose, yet the boiling process creates a high enough proportion of invert sugar that it doesn’t crystallize easily.

These days sorghum is a minor crop in the US, though worldwide it’s still the fifth most abundant cereal crop. Being extremely hardy, it’s popular with subsistence farmers in Central America, Africa and Asia.

As for the syrup, it has a flavor you really need to grow up with to appreciate. I didn’t, and I find the stuff rather, um…pungent. Still, once upon a time it was the only syrup some Midwestern folks could afford. Not all that long ago it was common to find a jar or bowl of it on the kitchen table where it served as a general-purpose household sweetener.

Filed under:  Pastry, Sorghum | 12 Comments