Growing up in the country, I had always thought of sorghum as only being used for stock feeds. That was, until we were approached by someone to stock pearled sorghum in our shop. Since then I have done some online research and incorporated this amazing grain in a number of ways in cooking and baking. Here we’re going to look at what sorghum is, why we would want to include it in our diets and how and what to cook with it.
What is Sorghum?
Archaeology tells us that the earliest domestication of sorghum was found in North-east Africa, and dates back to about 8,000 BC
Sorghum is the broad term for an entire genus of grasses that are native to tropics and subtropics around the world. While there are numerous different species of Sorghum, only one is harvested for human consumption, while the others are primarily used as fodder for animals. The important sorghum species for the human consumer food markets, Sorghum bicolor can be found throughout Africa, India, China, United States as a staple food product and has eventually worked its way into Australia.
Grain sorghum is a major component of the dryland cropping system of north-eastern Australia. Approximately 60% of the Australian crop is grown in Queensland and the remainder in northern New South Wales. Sorghum produced in Australia is used almost exclusively for feed, especially cattle, pigs and poultry
Sorghum grain, is among the most efficient crop in conversion of solar energy and use of water. Sorghum is known as high-energy, drought tolerant crop and eco-friendly. An acre of sorghum requires less water than many other crops, it has become a good choice for growers in drought-prone regions plus requires fewer expensive fertilizers. Sorghum originated in ancient times and this healthy Old-World Grain has been a principle source of energy in the dietary foundation of more than 500 million people in 30 countries.
Today this super grain is widely considered as the fifth most important cereal crop in the world, as the global sorghum grain is now being consumed more and more in our diets as consumer trends evolve sorghum into their modern meals.
Why should I include Sorghum in my diet?
Sorghum is Gluten Free, and has high nutritional value, with high levels of unsaturated fats, protein, fibre, and minerals like phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and iron. It also has more antioxidants than blueberries and pomegranates
As the protein and starch in grain sorghum are more slowly digested than other cereals, and slower rates of digestibility are particularly beneficial for diabetics.
Sorghum is an excellent substitute for wheat, rye and barley for those who cannot tolerate gluten. Sorghum is used to make both leavened and unleavened breads. In Sahelian Africa, it is primarily used in couscous. Various fermented and unfermented beverages are made from sorghum.
Sorghum has a mild, earthy flavour. Its texture and flavour is similar to wheat berries and the flour has been described as being the most wheat-like gluten free flour.
Wholegrain and Pearled Sorghum is 100% gluten free, making it ideal for people diagnosed with coeliac disease cholesterol free, Non-GMO, all natural, high in antioxidants, easier on the digestive system, it is seen as a healthy, fresh alternative powerhouse in terms of nutrients, and can provide individuals with vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin, as well as high levels of magnesium, iron, copper, calcium, phosphorous, and potassium, nearly half the daily required intake of protein and a very significant amount of dietary fibre. Its cooked chewy texture really gives it an edge over other grains: “It fills your mouth and its low glycemic index helps keep you full.”
Other great benefits of sorghum include:
With qualities like those, we should all be adding it to our diet.
How do I use Sorghum?
To cook, use one cup of whole grain sorghum to three cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook for approximately 40-55 minutes or until the sorghum is tender.
The hearty, chewy texture of cooked wholegrain or pearled sorghum is prefect for pilafs, cold salads, side dishes, entrees and porridges. Popped wholegrain sorghum for a healthy high fibre snack, it’s similar to popcorn but much smaller. Sorghum flour with its gluten free characteristics is becoming the plain flour ingredient base in gluten free products as such pancakes, pasta, breads, cookies, tortillas, and extruded commercial products. It makes a great alternative for rice or couscous in salads or to serve with stir-fries or middle eastern tagines and other dishes; try serving it with a dish made with one of our new Exotic Bazaar Persian simmer sauces.
Substituting some of the flour in bread with sorghum flour results in a mid-coloured loaf with a good crumb and a nutty flavour. I make mine in a Panasonic Breadmaker that has a Gluten Free baking option.
Like rice, pearled sorghum grains can be made into a delicious pudding. Just par-cook your sorghum in water, then drain and continue cooking in milk with a little sugar, or if you want a dairy free alternative, use coconut milk and sweeten with coconut sugar. This is also a good way of using left over cooked sorghum.
Sorghum grains have the same moisture-sealed hull and dense interior that allow the grain to pop when pressure from steam builds up inside the kernel. Grains like sorghum and amaranth burst open like popcorn and can be cooked in the same manner just with a little oil in a heavy based lidded saucepan.
Sorghum syrup is used as a sweetener, although it actually has more calories per tablespoon than molasses, maple syrup, or white sugar and about equal to honey. If you're diabetic or need to avoid blood sugar spikes, sorghum is not a safe alternative sweetener.
Sorghum is the “New Wonder Grain” – The Food of the Future from the Past.