Ark of Taste
Traditional Sorghum Syrup
In 1853, sweet sorghum – a native African grass – was introduced to the US with the hopes of reducing reliance on imported cane sugars. This drought-resistant, heat tolerant member of the grass family is grown today in 26 states, and mostly in the southeastern and gulf states.
Sorghum syrup is a natural sweetener derived from the juice that is extracted from the sorghum cane. The juice is cleansed of impurities and concentrated by evaporation into a clear, amber-colored and mild-flavored syrup. Similar to traditional molasses, sorghum syrup is a liquid that can be served for use on hot cereal, pancakes, and waffles and it also makes a wonderful sweetener for baked goods. Sorghum syrup has a unique flavor that is slightly bitter yet sweet with an earthy, molasses quality.
In 1888 the total US sorghum syrup production was 20,000,000 gallons, compared to the current production, which is limited to small-scale producers, who sell locally. The average producer today grows 1-2 acres of sorghum. This decreased production is a consequence of the decline of family farms and the easy access to other mass-produced, cheaper sweeteners.
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