What is Sorghum Syrup?
Sorghum is a cereal grain that is native to Africa but has been cultivated in the southern United States for centuries. Sorghum syrup is made by boiling down the sweet juice extracted from the sorghum cane plant. You are left with a thick, sweet syrup with a distinct flavor that is popular in Southern cuisine. Many drinks and dishes use this as a base of sweetness to build on.
The syrup has been used for centuries, becoming especially popular in the Southern United States during the 19th century. At the time, white sugar was quite expensive and hard to buy for those living in rural areas, and so sorghum syrup served as an inexpensive alternative.
Sorghum syrup fell out of favor in the early 1900s with white sugar becoming more widely available. Today, it can be difficult to find, although some farmers and specialty stores still produce it. Thanks to more attention to health and farm-to-table rising in popularity, sorghum syrup is making a comeback. While it still may be hard to find in most grocery stores, you can purchase it online or directly source from farmers and specialty stores that produce it. If you’re looking for an alternative sweetener with a unique flavor and color, give sorghum syrup a try – you won’t be disappointed!
When purchasing sorghum syrup, look for a dark amber color and a thick consistency. It should have a sweet and slightly earthy flavor with hints of molasses.
How to Use Sorghum Syrup
Sorghum syrup is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Its rich flavor makes it a popular alternative to other sweeteners like sugar or maple syrup. It is similar in a lot of ways to pure cane syrup, yet typically has deeper flavor. Here are some great ways you can use sorghum syrup in your cooking:
- As a topping for pancakes or waffles
- In baking recipes, like cookies or cakes (my favorite!)
- As a glaze for meats or vegetables
- Mixed into yogurt or oatmeal for a sweet breakfast
- As a sweetener in cocktails or mocktails
Sorghum syrup is also a great alternative to other sweeteners like corn syrup or refined sugar. It has a lower glycemic index than sugar, meaning it won’t cause the same spike in blood sugar levels. And because it’s a natural sweetener, it’s free of the chemicals and additives found in many commercial sweeteners. Great things to consider!
What Does Sorghum Syrup Taste Like?
Sorghum syrup has a rich, earthy flavor with hints of molasses and caramel, some even say a slight rum taste. It’s not as sweet as sugar or honey, but it has an awesome full flavor that adds a unique touch to a dish or drink. The color of sorghum syrup can vary from a light amber to dark brown. This depends mostly on how long it has been cooked. The darker the syrup, the stronger the flavor will be, so shop around, and over time you can find the style you prefer most.
Substitutions for Sorghum Syrup
If you can’t find sorghum syrup or you’re looking for a substitute, there are a few options you can try:
- Molasses: Molasses has a similar flavor to sorghum syrup and can be used as a 1:1 substitute in most recipes. Molasses is thicker than sorghum syrup, so take this into account.
- Maple syrup: Maple syrup has a different flavor than sorghum syrup, but it’s still a good option as a substitute in many recipes. Note that maple syrup is slightly less sweet than sorghum syrup.
- Honey: While not as complex in flavor as sorghum syrup, honey can add sweetness to dishes in a similar way. There are better options, noted above for substitutions, but if you have no other choice, honey will do.
Remember, the flavor of your final dish may be slightly different when using a substitute, so it’s always best to experiment and find what works best for you.
Using Sorghum Syrup in Southern Cuisine
Sorghum syrup is a staple ingredient in Southern cuisine, known for its unique flavor and versatility in a wide range of dishes. Here are some popular ways to use sorghum syrup in Southern cooking:
- Biscuits: Sorghum syrup adds a touch of sweetness and depth to classic Southern biscuits. Use it as a spread on freshly baked biscuits or mix it into biscuit dough for a subtle sweet flavor.
- Barbecue sauce: Sorghum syrup can be used as a key ingredient in Southern-style barbecue sauce. It adds a rich, molasses-like sweetness that balances the tanginess of the vinegar and spices.
- Glazes: Use sorghum syrup as a glaze for roasted meats like ham or pork tenderloin. Mix it with mustard, garlic, and apple cider vinegar for a tangy-sweet glaze that will impress your dinner guests.
- Pies and desserts: Sorghum syrup is a great replacement for corn syrup or molasses in pies and other desserts. Try using it in pecan pie or drizzling it over ice cream for a delicious treat.
- Beverages: Mix sorghum syrup into lemonade or iced tea for a refreshing Southern-style drink. You can also use it to sweeten cocktails like whiskey sours or mint juleps.
These are just a few examples of how sorghum syrup can be used in Southern cuisine. With its unique flavor and versatility, sorghum syrup is a vintage sweetener that deserves to have a part in your pantry. Give it a try and check out our recipes featuring this must-have ingredient for any Southern pantry.