What Is Sorghum, Exactly? Here's How to Use It in Cooking
2024/02/15

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Have you ever heard that expression, "everything old is new again?" That is most certainly the case with a lot of foods these days making a comeback (we're looking at you, ). But perhaps the oldest things to be new again would be ancient grains. Think: , wild rice, farro... you know, anything that's made its way into trendy and .

One such ingredient making its way back onto menus and store shelves is sorghum. But what is sorghum exactly? You've probably heard of it in one of its many iterations, especially if you're from the South. Though it's not as popular as it once was, sorghum has been a staple in the southern half of the country for centuries and is making a resurgence thanks to its versatility, nutritional content, and flavor.

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Technically speaking, sorghum is a flowering plant in the grass family. It arrived from Africa and thrived in the warmer, dryer plains climate because it needs less water to grow. Also called broomcorn, it was cultivated widely by the 1800s as a grain for human consumption, used to feed livestock, and even made bristles for brooms (hence the alternative name). But surely you're wondering, what is it used for in the 21st century? Well, we're here to share all the sorghum facts and why it may end up in your kitchen sooner than later.

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Dusty Pixel photography // Getty Images

What is sorghum used for?

Maybe we should ask what sorghum used for to shorten the list, because it is quite a useful ingredient! Its most enduring form is sorghum syrup, which is a sweetener extracted from the stalks of the plant. It's similar to in terms of consistency and color and often used as a substitute. If you get your hands on some, you can try it or honey, too.

Golden Barrrel Sorghum Syrup

Golden Barrrel Sorghum Syrup

But sorghum is also sold as a grain you can cook. It has a slightly chewy texture and makes an excellent substitute in or for different . In fact, it is prepared much the same way, via stovetop,

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, or . It can also be a delicious snack, because you can pop sorghum like popcorn either on the stovetop, in a , or in the microwave. Imagine all the you can try!

And last but certainly not least, there is sorghum flour. It is a that is gluten-free, so is an excellent . Of course, like any alternative, it won't be an exact one-to-one substitution so you'll have to play around with it and do a little research on what the baking experts advise.

What does sorghum taste like?

With so many applications, you're probably curious what they all taste like! As a grain and snack, you can expect a chewy texture and a slightly nutty flavor, similar to barley. As a syrup, it will taste sweet of course, but definitely a little sour. It will have a slight bitter note, too, but not as strong as molasses.

Is sorghum good for you?

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