quart jar of brown sorghum syrup with yellow label and white lid in baking pan with brown eggs and butter

Sweet like sorghum!

quart jar of brown sorghum syrup with yellow label and white lid in baking pan with brown eggs and butter

Ever heard of sorghum?  It’s sort of sweet, right?  And brown, right?  It’s molasses…maybe? Hmmmm.

Your questions answered!

What is it?

Sorghum syrup is made from a grass that is native to Africa, called sorghum.  It is sometimes known as sorghum molasses because it tastes similar to molasses.  However, molasses is a byproduct of the sugar-making process and made from crushed sugar cane or sugar beets, while sorghum is made from the sorghum cereal grain.  Sorghum has many different varieties including grain sorghum used to make food and grass sorghum used in broom-making. 

stalks of green sorghum stalks growing with yellow orange seed heads on top

Sorghum growing in a field. Photo credit http://britannica.com

Sorghum is a very important crop in dry, arid regions as it is well-suited to endure drought.  It has strong stalks and grows 2 – 8 feet tall and as high as 15 feet tall.  The central part of the stalk, or pith, is the sweet juicy part.  In grain varieties, the seeds, which are smaller than wheat seeds, are gluten free and generally ground into a meal for use in hot cereal, pancakes, or cakes.  The sweet varieties are mostly grown in the US or southern Africa.  The sorghum Heaven’s Dew carries is grown and processed by Heritage Acres Pure Sorghum in northern Indiana!

A Little History

According to http://sorghumcheckoff.com, the earliest use of sorghum was discovered at an archeological dig near the Egyptian-Sudanese border and dated back to 8,000BC.  Different tribes in Africa helped spread various types of sorghum across Africa, to India, China, and then Australia.  The first recorded use of sorghum in the US was in 1757 by Benjamin Franklin who wrote about it’s use in broom-making.

Sorghum today

The US is the largest producer of grain sorghum in the world today.  The leading states are Kansas, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.  

What’s the Process?

(information from http://finegardening.com)  Sweet sorghum, also known as sorghum syrup, sorghum molasses, sorgho, and sorgo is made by boiling the sweet juice of the sorghum stalk.  While sorghum is in the same family as sugar cane, it is not sugar cane.  It is processed similarly though. 

pile of green sorghum stalks and brown seed head Harvested sorghum. Photo credit http://finegardening.com

At harvest time, the plants are cut off at the bottom and leaves and seed heads are removed.  Good seeds are saved to plant the next year and the rest of the seed heads are used for poultry feed or some other similar use.  The stalks are stacked in piles and allowed to sit for several days or up to 2 weeks so that the starch in the stalk turns to sugar.  The length of this process depends somewhat on the weather. 

After the waiting period, the sorghum stalks are fed into a mill that crushes them and squeezes out the light green, sweet juice.  The spent stalks can then be fed to livestock and the juice is boiled down into syrup and becomes a brown color – usually lighter brown than sugarcane molasses.

Nutritional benefits

(information from http://americansorghum.com)  Sorghum contains several minerals and other nutrients and is therefore a better sweetener option than sugar.  Before multivitamins, some doctors prescribed sorghum syrup to help patients get the necessary iron, calcium, and potassium.  

One tablespoon of sorghum syrup can provide:

  • 30mg calcium
  • 300mg protein
  • .76mg iron
  • 20mg magnesium
  • 11 mg phosphorus
  • 200mg potassium
  • .80mg zinc
  • .03mg riboflavin

Heritage Acres Pure Sorghum

Heaven’s Dew carries Heritage Acres Pure Sorghum in 2 sizes: a pint and a quart. 

clear quart jar of brown sorghum syrup with yellow label and white lid

This sorghum syrup is grown and processed in northern Indiana on a small family farm.  Their label has two recipes on it so you can start using it right away:  Ginger Cookies and Grandmother’s Gingerbread!  Here’s what their label says:

Our sorghum is made from 100% pure, natural juice extracted from sorghum cane, grown without pesticides, just good old-fashioned labor.  The juice is cleansed of impurities and concentrated by evaporation in open pans.  The syrup retains all of its natural sugars and other nutrients such as iron, potassium, and phosphorus.  It is 100% natural.

The versatility of sorghum is being rediscovered by today’s nutrition conscious homemakers.  They are finding that for today’s chef, sorghum is a nutritious flavoring, a seasoning ingredient, and sugar substitute that will add flavor to soups, breads, cakes, cookies, pies, and many other foods.

More ideas!!!

Sorghum syrup can be used to replace molasses, maple syrup, or granulated sugar.  Some resources suggest that when baking with sorghum syrup, you can use half of the amount suggested for sugar.  For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you can use ½ cup sorghum syrup.  You might need to play around with this a little bit to get it exactly the way you want it! 

Below are some recipes that you can try out.  The first one is a sorghum syrup oatmeal bar that Heaven’s Dew served at our Winter Farmer’s meeting in January.  Everyone loved them!!!  The recipe was adapted from https://www.food.com/recipe/molasses-oatmeal-bars-63206

Sorghum Syrup Oatmeal Barsclear glass baking pan with baked sorghum bars

Ingredients:

  • ⅔ C raw sugar
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • ½ t ginger
  • ¼ t allspice
  • ⅔ C Heritage Acres Pure Sorghum syrupmixing bowl with baking ingredients and wooden spatula in it
  • 6 T vegetable oil (suggest coconutor avocado)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ C Crushed Wheat #1 (scant)
  • 1 C rolled oats
  • 2 t baking powder

Directions:  

  1. Grease a 9”x13” glass baking pan.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Use an electric mixer to blend together raw sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, sorghum syrup, vegetable oil, and eggs.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the crushed wheat  #1, rolled oats, and baking powder.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the sorghum syrup mixture and stir until blended.
  5. Spread in baking pan.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out dry.
  6. Cool on a wire rack and then cut into bars.

Next up is a sweet and savory side dish and the colors of this dish are amazing!  This recipe and photo come from http://sorghumcheckoff.com

Sorghum Sweet Potatoes

iron skillet with sweet potatoes and white cream

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 1 red jalapeno chile, minced
  • ¼ t grated orange zest
  • ½ C heavy cream
  • ¼ C vegetable stock
  • 2 T sorghum syrup
  • ¼ t ground nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and cook until tender.
  2. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan, and when the butter bubbles and froths, add the jalapeno and the orange zest. Cook for 1 minute, turn off the heat and then add the cream. Set aside.
  3. When the sweet potatoes are fork tender, drain them in a colander set up in your sink. Let them drain completely, and then pass them through a ricer or mash them well with a potato masher. Add the flavored cream, stock, sorghum, nutmeg and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix well and transfer to a serving bowl.

Okay, now a beautiful salad recipe!  This recipe and photo come to us from http://tasteofsouthmagazine.com

Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Sorghum Vinaigrette and Bacon

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

  • ½ cup sorghum syrup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½ pound thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch-thick pieces
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved (if large, quartered)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Garnish: fresh thyme

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place in oven to preheat, at least 15 minutes but no longer than 25 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together sorghum, vinegar, thyme, and crushed red pepper.
  3. Carefully remove preheated baking sheet from oven, and arrange bacon in a single layer.
  4. Bake until bacon begins to crisp, 7 to 10 minutes.
  5. In another large bowl, combine Brussels sprouts, oil, and salt. Carefully remove baking sheet from oven. Add Brussels sprouts mixture in an even layer, carefully stirring to incorporate bacon.
  6. Bake, turning occasionally, until golden brown, crispy, and tender, 20 to 25 minutes more.
  7. Add Brussels sprouts mixture to sorghum mixture, and toss to coat. Garnish with fresh thyme, if desired.

And now for the main dish – recipe and photo from http://homesicktexan.com

Sorghum-mustard glazed ribs

Servings 4

Author Lisa Fain

Ingredients for the ribs:

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 2 (1-pound) slabs St. Louis cut or baby back ribs

Ingredients for the sorghum mustard glaze:

  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 tablespoons sorghum syrup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. To make a rub, mix together the salt, pepper, brown sugar, granulated garlic, mustard powder, smoked paprika and chipotle chile powder. Taste and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle each slab of ribs evenly with the rub and then double wrap with foil, making note of which side is the bone side. Refrigerate the ribs for 2-8 hours. (They’re good after 2 hours but even better after 8.)
  2. To bake, preheat the oven to 300° F and line two baking sheets with foil. Place the foil-wrapped ribs, bone side up, on the sheets, and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan stir together the brewed coffee, sorghum syrup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, chipotle chile powder and allspice. Cook on medium until the sugar has dissolved and then whisk in the mustard until well combined. (The mustard will probably break up a bit when you add it to the pot but a few turns of the whisk will incorporate it into the sauce.)
  4. After 1 hour and 30 minutes, remove the ribs from the oven. Gently open the foil (a lot of steam will escape, so be careful) and take 1/4 cup of the meat juices and stir them into the sauce. Adjust seasonings and add salt to taste.
  5. With tongs, remove the ribs from the foil and place back on the sheet, meat side up. Discard the foil that wrapped the ribs, as well as the remaining meat juices (unless you prefer to save the juices for another use).
  6. Brush the meat side of the slabs with the sauce and return to the oven. Cook for 30 minutes uncovered and then brush each slab with the sauce again. Cook for 30 more minutes. Remove from the oven, turn on the broiler, brush each slab with sauce and then cook under the broiler for 1-3 minutes, or until darkened and dark spots appear.

What do you think???

green measuring cup full of sorghum syrup with wooden spatula on top

Have you used sorghum syrup before?  Will you add Heritage Acres Pure Sorghum syrup to your pantry now?  Try it!  If you’re going to sweeten your food, at least you will be getting some rich nutrients with it!!!  And that is “sweet as sorghum!”

 

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