Ancient Grain in Modern Times: Sorghum

Ingredient Spotlight

Sorghum doesn't get quite the same street cred as corn, rice, and the other great grains of the world. It is nonetheless a vital crop in many areas around the globe, particularly in central Africa where this drought-resistant grain originated several thousand years ago. Here in the US, sorghum is experiencing something of a renaissance, both as an alternative sweetener and as a gluten-free grain. Have you ever cooked with sorghum?

Sorghum berries look like tiny spherical pellets, similar to millet, and have a mild sweet flavor. They can be cooked like rice and other grains into a fluffy side dish or into a thick porridge. The dried grains can also be milled into flour and used to make flatbreads, cookies, and other baked goods. Since the flour contains no gluten, sorghum is best when used in conjunction with other flours.

Sorghum syrup is pressed from the stalks of sweet sorghum plants, like sugar cane, and then boiled down into a concentrated syrup. As it cooks, the syrup develops a rich, earthy, honey-like flavor. It can be used on its own as a topping for pancakes and oatmeal or used like honey or molasses to make desserts and baked goods. This syrup can also be used like malt extract to homebrew gluten-free beer.

You can find sorghum grain, flour, and syrup at most natural food stores. It can also be ordered online:

Sorghum Syrup from Nuts.com
Gluten-Free Sorghum Flour from King Arthur Flour
Sweet White Sorghum Berries from Barry Farm Foods

What has been your experience with sorghum?

Related: Beer Review: Bard's Gold Sorghum Beer

(Images: huyangshu and Eva Gruendemann/Shutterstock)