My Most Recent CSA Challenge: Sorghum Syrup

I’m like Little Mikey from those old Life cereal commercials. When friends receive a mysterious item in their CSA share, they send it my way and let me try it first … and more often than not, I end up being a fan. Recently, I was the recipient of a jar of sorghum syrup and true to form — I liked it!

Sorghum is an ancient grain that is currently making a comeback in the U.S. It is a hardy plant that grows much like corn, but produces a nutrient dense grain. The gluten-free grain can be enjoyed whole or milled into gluten-free flour.

A field of sorghum.

Sweet sorghum is a particular variety grown for its juice. The sweet juice is extracted from the stalks and then boiled down into syrup. Sorghum syrup is an old-time favorite in the Deep South, but not so common any place else.

The syrup has the consistency of honey, but the flavor is that of buttery caramel with hints of vanilla and coffee. It can be golden in color or dark like molasses. With a few exceptions, sorghum syrup can be used as a one-to-one substitute for any recipe that calls for maple syrup, honey or molasses. (If the recipe calls for molasses, cut the entire amount of sweetener back by a third, as molasses is more bitter than sweet.)

Sorghum’s complex flavor adds interest to baked beans, spicy barbecue and stir-fry. It is a natural with apples, carrots, pears and bacon; and it makes one mean popcorn ball! Drizzle a little on your pancakes, oatmeal or hot biscuits for a characteristically sweet Southern treat.

The liquid sweetener has less fructose than regular white sugar and more micronutrients like potassium, calcium and iron. But be warned! Although sorghum is a natural unprocessed product, it is still a sugar and should be consumed in moderation. Enjoy the deep flavor sparingly like you would any other sweetener.

What do you do with those weird but wonderful ingredients that show up in your CSA share? —Karen

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