Sorghum: A Jack of All Grains?

Sorghum is a whole grain that is native to Africa, Australia, India, and southern Asian countries. It was introduced to the US in 1757 and has since been grown worldwide. The name “sorghum” traces back to Italian and Latin roots meaning “grain of Syria” as it’s been a popular crop for over 4,000 years. Similar to amaranth, sorghum is tolerant to drought and heat, and can grow in a variety of soil conditions making it easy to grow in various locations.

Sorghum is used in a multitude of ways including human and livestock consumption. The grains can be cooked and eaten whole, ground into flour, or popped like corn. Sorghum is gluten free and its flour can be substituted as a 1:1 ratio for flour in recipes, but requires a binding agent in baking (such as xanthan gum, psyllium husk powder, or guar gum). In the South, sorghum “molasses” was a staple sweetener and used in ways similar to honey, maple syrup, or pricier sweeteners.

Not only is sorghum consumed as a food source, but it can also be used as a biofuel source. Similar to corn, sorghum has tall, rigid stalks. These stalks are pressed and the juices released are fermented and converted into ethanol.

Sorghum is the fifth most produced cereal crop in the world – 57.6 million tons! – after wheat, rice, corn and barley. The US is actually the largest producer in the world, and 46% of production is used as livestock feed. Sorghum is relatively easy to grow and maintain which makes it a great option for farmers to plant.

This small grain can pack a punch when it comes to nutrition. In a half a cup, you can find 10g of protein, 6g of fiber, B vitamins, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium. Certain varieties have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits similar to blueberries and pomegranates. Sorghum can be included in your next meal in a variety of ways. Check out some of these recipes below:

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