Cane sorghum is the juice of the plant, Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench, a grass technically, that is boiled down and clarified to make a syrup used as a natural sweetener. Sorghum syrup is darker than honey, with a flavor that is deeper, like caramel with notes of vanilla, coffee and leather. It’s not as bitter as blackstrap molasses, a by-product of making crystallized cane sugar, that’s often plagued by a burnt tar aftertaste. The sorghum syrup is a mild flavored thick syrup, which is an economical alternative..
Harvesting Sorghum Cane
Juicing the cane from the crushed stalks is a mechanized process, but in the past, the cane juice was squeezed out with big rollers pushed by mules. That’s why you’ll sometimes see a quaint bottle of sorghum with a mule painted on it. Now the cane is brought in through large conveyor belts, and it can be milled using hydraulic pressure rollers. The juice is filtered properly to clear off the impurities and then it’s heated in a pan to form a thick concentrate as it transforms into an amber – brown color with the viscosity of honey. It can be a light amber to a roasted brown color, depending on the time of year and the producer; it’s all a matter of preference (darker syrup is sometimes inaccurately referred to as sorghum molasses). The juice may be boiled in large pans that have partitions so the syrup slowly snakes its way down the chute while being clarified.
Sorghum Syrup Foaming While Canning
It is quite normal for sorghum syrup to foam while bottling or canning. There are such old-timer methods used by mountain natives for judging the end product. ‘Tater-hilling’ is when it gets hot foam bubbles the size of potatoes, and smaller ‘sheep’s-eye’ or ‘frog’s-eye’ bubbles appear right before the molasses is ready to come off the stove.
Difference between Blackstrap Molasses and Sorghum Syrup
Blackstrap Molasses is the by-product of processing sugar cane into sugar. The sugar cane juice is extracted from the cane by crushing or mashing, and the juice is boiled to concentrate it, which produces crystallization of the sugar. The first boiling and removal of sugar crystals is called “first molasses” (mild) and is sweetest. “Second molasses” (dark) is created from second boiling and removal of crystals. “Blackstrap” is the result of a third boiling of the syrup and is considered bittersweet. The blackstrap molasses has high nutrition content in comparison with the regular molasses. It is rich in vitamin D, B6 and minerals iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, manganese and magnesium, and it has low sugar content as the major portion of the concentration gets converted into dry sugar.
Sorghum “Molasses” Health Benefits
The syrup is very high in natural sugar ingredients as in the case of sorghum canes. It is a very nutritious food free from any sort of chemical preservatives or additives. This sort of syrup can be further heated to form dry sugar. The sorghum syrup is traditionally used as a baking sweetener, and it can be used anywhere you need sweetness with an extra layer of flavor: BBQ sauces, braising liquid or glazes, soups, marinades, pickling liquid, simple syrup, or cocktails. In the south, sorghum syrup is poured on hot biscuits, and many people drizzle it straight over ice cream or berries.
The sorghum syrup is very high in calorie content. About ¼ cup of the syrup has 239 calories and amount to as much as 61 gm of sugar. The syrup is good for the bones and teeth as it has 12% of calcium, 17.5% iron, 28% of vitamin B6, 24% potassium and has many other vital minerals that are present in molasses. Molasses are comparatively low in calorie value compared to the syrup. Sorghum syrup is also a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, thiamin and omega 6 fatty acids.
All Sorghum products and by products are very high in sugar content. People suffering from obesity and diabetes should avoid high intake as it may lead to weight gain and give rise to the high blood sugar levels.