Sorghum Uses

This page talks about sorghum uses, how to grow it and how to cook it for use as a syrup.

Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is a natural sweetener created by processing juice from the sorgo stem. This plant is a member of the grass family. Sorghum syrup is typically called “molasses” for the sake of marketing. This, however, is incorrect as molasses is created from sugar manufacturing.  The seed itself is small and almost resembles corn. Good soil is necessary for the best yield of syrup so be sure to evaluate which seed is best for growing. Care should be taken that the seed is not sown in soil that is below 70 °F.  Precaution also should be taken that when the seed is dispersed into the soil the machine neither grinds the seed fine nor frustrates the machine. The Sorghum does best in warm temperatures and compared to most crops is resistant to stress, heat, and even drought.    

In the United States sorghum has been grown in the Southeast, mid-south, and Midwest. Farming communities would harvest during the fall festivals and it became the main crop for marketing. 

It is best to plant the sweet sorghum seed in late May early June as the seed best germinates in warm soil.  Preparation of the bed should be done as if it were being made for corn. Organic fertilizer should be used when necessary but unlike most crops sorghum self-fertilizes itself. The crop is also self-pollinating. Seeds should be sown one-half inch deep and 4 inches apart.  In the early stage of growth the plant will look very much like grass. When the shoots are 4 inches tall they should be moved 8 inches apart. Vigilance over weeds should be kept at least until the sorghum is tall enough to overshadow the pests. After 6 weeks of growth it is recommended that sorghum be feed fertilizer to help prompt new growth. Sweet sorghum have been known to grow up to 8 feet tall.

In determining sorghum uses when harvesting the sorghum crop, a refractometer should be used to help determine when the brix amount is at its peak (highest sugar content).

It is best to harvest during the early fall because any freeze will damage the crop and cause the brix amount to diminish. Traditionally the cane of the crop was hand stripped, there is however much better machinery that can be used now.  It should be noted that the green leaves should not be included because it will cause an offensive flavor to the syrup. Seeds should not go into the soon to be pressed cane either as it will add bitterness to your syrup. Make sure to save the seeds for next year as they can be sown or used as feed for livestock and poultry (horses are exempt from this list). After the stripping of the crop you can either haul your sorghum to a mill for grinding (it’s really a squeeze) or you can use shredder grinder and finally a cider press to get out the juice as an alternative. There are also cane presses that the best out of all the options.

Sorghum uses include using it as syrup or sweetener.

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Now that you have the juice available begin to filter so that any leftover stalk or even seed will not make its way into the syrup and ruin the product. Next, the filtered juiced should be added put into a cooking tub. Fresh juice should be added at different moments during the boiling process not all at once. As the syrup is boiled a greenish slime will rise to the top of the syrup which needs to be removed by skimming.  Once this is done after a few hours the syrup will turn to a nice rich brown color and will be sweet smelling. 

As the liquid becomes thicker and darker in color make sure to decrease the temperature of the heat. After an hour of cooling the syrup should be ready to be funneled and put into the final storage (i.e. quart glass, pint). The color of the syrup should be either reddish brown or a rich brown for sorghum uses.

 Depending on what variety of seed you have chosen or the field the crop was grown in different shades of color will be seen.  It should be noted here that there is more than way to go about preparing and cooking sorghum.  Those who live in farming communities who have been growing this crop for generations have their own methods so it is good to consult them, however, it isn’t bad to modify their methods to fit whatever method is best suited for your own individual case.

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