Sorghum syrup, also called sweet sorghum or sorghum molasses, is a thick syrup that was popular in the southern states of America during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. It is made by processing sorghum cane rather than sugar cane (sorghum being an annual or perennial tropical cereal grass). Because sorghum is not harvested or even grown as frequently as it once was, sorghum syrup is noticeably harder to find than other syrups, even in the South from where it originated. Indeed, only a scattering of family-owned farms in the South still operate sorghum cane mills today. That said, ready-made sorghum syrup is still possible to buy via specialist retailers, and if you have access to sorghum juice, then making it yourself isn’t difficult.
Since sorghum cane juice is purged of impurities and then concentrated by an open pan evaporation process, its syrup retains almost all of its nutrients and sugars. This is excellent news for health enthusiasts, because the roots of the sorghum cane grow deep into the soil, tapping into trace minerals that are seldom found to such levels elsewhere, thereby making sorghum’s nutrients especially valuable for our bodies.
In fact, one tablespoon of unsulfured sorghum syrup will provide you with:
- 61 calories and 16g of sugar (which is quite high, but should be expected of a sugary product)
- 3% RDA of calcium
- 4% RDA of iron
- 5% RDA of magnesium
- 6% RDA of potassium
- 7% RDA of vitamin B6
- 16% RDA of manganese
Readers of my article, Health Benefits of Blackstrap Molasses, will immediately draw comparisons between the nutritional profiles of blackstrap molasses and sorghum syrup. However, since blackstrap trumps sorghum in almost every regard (for instance, blackstrap contains 21% of your RDA of iron per tablespoon, compare to sorghum’s 4%), I recommended blackstrap over sorghum as a health supplement. If you’re looking to use a molasses or syrup as a cooking ingredient, however, then sorghum still has its uses. You can use it to sweeten, for example, gingerbread men, popcorn balls, ginger snaps, and even sweet potatoes with apple slices.
How to Make the Syrup
While recipes abound on the Internet for sorghum syrup dishes, it is harder to find out how to make the syrup itself. Since sorghum syrup isn’t easy to find, at least for non-American readers, we’ll show you how to make it here. You’ll need some firewood, some sorghum juice, and an evaporator pan.
- Build a small wood fire outdoors and place the evaporator pan over it.
- Pour the sorghum cane juice into the compartments of the heated pan and allow it to boil. Stir occasionally.
- Allow the juice to simmer for two-and-a-half hours. Sometimes a skin will form atop the mixture; you can remove it using a cooking sieve or skimmer.
- You’ll know when the syrup is ready because the liquids in each compartment of the pan will develop a thick, honey-like consistency. If they are still cloudy-looking, then they’re not ready yet.
- Once the syrup is ready, transfer it from the pan into a suitable glass container using a metal ladle.
And there you have it – homemade sorghum syrup! Note that this syrup, like honey and other viscous, treacle-like products, never spoils and can be kept in your kitchen indefinitely.