Sorghum FAQs

What is sorghum?
Juice pressed from the canes of a grass—Sorghum Bicolor (L.) Moench—and concentrated through cooking until it becomes an amber-colored, sweet syrup that has warm caramel flavors.

Is sorghum the same as molasses?That's a trick question! Where are you from? If you grew up in Sorghum Nation, the answer is "yes." Those of us who grew up with sorghum call it, interchangeably, "sorghum," "molasses," and "sorghum molasses." Technically, all these titles refer to sweet sorghum syrup. In most of the world, "sorghum" can refer to the grain the sorghum cane plant produces, which is edible and can be made into flour. "Molasses" most accurately describes a dark, strongly flavored syrup that develops as sugar is made from sugar cane juice.

What is the difference between sorghum cane and sugar cane?
They are two different plants, both in the grass family, and both of which produce something sweet from the juice that is pressed from their canes. Sugar cane juice can be refined and processed (to death, some say) to produce sugar crystals. Sorghum cane, until recently, could not be used to yield crystalline sugar. No worries—we love the delicious amber syrup! Read the book to learn about ways sorghum trumps sugar as a sweetener and as a crop that is good for farms and communities.

What are some good resources for growers considering sorghum cane production for syrup?
Sweet Sorghum for Syrup, produced at the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture/Cooperative Extension Service, revised 2009, offers a good overview and is more recent than most resources.

Sweet Sorghum Production and Processing, by George Kuepper for the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, provides a solid guide to each stage of sorghum syrup cultivation, and production. While this publication is a bit aged, the Kerr Center's Farm Made: A Guide to On-Farm Processing for Organic Producers uses sweet sorghum syrup as a key example of an organic farm product with potential, and was produced in 2009.

See the excellent Sorghum FAQ's presented on the website of the National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association.

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