First, a question for you, have you ever cooked with or used sorghum? Sorghum is fairly new to me as I began using it last year. I have been meaning to write about it for some time now, and when I happened upon a friend’s blog mentioning beer made from sorghum, it jogged my noggin. (The beer is pretty good too:)
Sorghum is among the largest cereal grass crops in the world (along with wheat, oats, and barley). It is widely grown and used in Africa and it is used like any other grain in baking and cooking (basically, though it is gluten free).
However, what I want to talk about is sweet sorghum from which we get sorghum syrup. Yum… syrup. Sorghum syrup is made from sorghum cane (the stalks) of the sweet sorghum plant (a different variety than grain sorghum). The stalk is pressed for the juice (just like pressing sugar cane). Then the syrup is usually cooked down to concentrate the flavors and packaged for sale. You may have to do a bit of searching to find some, luckily Nashville’s Whole Foods Market carries sorghum syrup from a local producer (Muddy Pond Sorghum Mill) so that has been nice.
Four things I especially like about sorghum syrup:
1. Sorghum syrup does not need to be refrigerated and will not mold like maple syrup. It might crystallize but it can just be warmed up to liquefy (think honey)
2. Sorghum syrup not only contains several other trace minerals but most notably, healthy amounts of iron, calcium, and potassium.
3. Sorghum syrup is high in antioxidants (The syrup I am getting has an ORAC of 1700). Seriously, a syrup that is high in antioxidants, that gets a ‘helloo’.
4. It is considerably cheaper than maple syrup. (A quart of maple syrup might cost you $15-20 while a quart of sorghum syrup is $8-12).
Sorghum syrup has more of a fruity flavor than maple syrup, which, sounds kind of obvious as, of course maple syrup has a “mapley” flavor… it tastes like the tree, which I have always loved, heh heh (note, that was not a “ha” or a “hee”, it was a “heh heh”). I have mainly used sorghum syrup over spelt pancakes and waffles like these spelt belgians:
Sometimes I have used the syrup in a smoothie and I have yet to use it in baking… but I shall… oh yes, I shall. And yes, honestly, it did take me some time to get accustomed to its taste, but that is true of most things that have never been tasted. So, consider sorghum syrup as another weapon in your healthy sweetner arsenal, along with raw honey, maple syrup, and unrefined cane sugar (ok, maybe stevia, agave, and xylitol too… maybe).
As a side note, I found this study interesting as it noted the antioxidant values of alternatives to refined sugar.