An alternative to sugar

Sweetening with Sorghum

by Debra Karplus

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Sugar is a staple item in your kitchen and maybe honey and molasses are also. But it's unlikely that sorghum has ever found its way into your grocery cart. It may be time to start exploring the uses of sweet sorghum or sorghum syrup in your food preparation.

Sorghum is an important world grain, a type of grass that is raised for grain. Sorghum flour is widely used, though probably not yet in your cooking. The sorghum plant is processed to create the tasty sorghum syrup. Sorghum syrup, a byproduct of the sorghum plant, is an alternative sweetener, a sugar substitute, used in similar ways to honey or molasses. Many larger supermarkets sell it, as do some natural food stores and specialty food shops and also you may spot it at some farmer's markets. At about $4 for a 32-ounce jar, it will last you a very long time as it is used by the spoonful.

Sweet sorghum has some nutritional benefits.

Sorghum, a natural sweetener, can be added to your diet to add to your daily vitamin supplement. It has significant amounts of B vitamins as well as many other essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and more. Additionally, it is low in sodium and has no fats or cholesterol. One tablespoon of sweet sorghum has about thirty calories. But, people with diabetes should take note that sweet sorghum is high in sugars.

Sorghum syrup can be used in a variety of ways.

Less sweet tasting than molasses, with a more subtle flavor, sorghum belongs in your some of your recipes. For variety, use sorghum instead of sugar, molasses, or honey in your favorite desserts and other recipes. Note that sorghum and baking soda do not mix well, so avoid adding sorghum to any recipe that uses baking soda. Sorghum can be part of any breakfast. Serve atop your favorite cold cereal or mix in with cooked cereal, such as oatmeal or corn grits. Stir in with plain yogurt. Add in vanilla or your favorite fruit. Or drizzle onto a bowl of fresh fruit. Top a serving of pancakes with sweet sorghum instead of maple syrup.

Breads can be baked using sorghum syrup instead of other sweeteners. Yeasted breads and other breads that do not use baking soda are delicious with sorghum. Peruse your favorite recipes and experiment.

Sweeten your fruit smoothies, yogurt, or milkshakes with sorghum instead of sugar. It mixes well in the blender. Start with a glass of milk or plain yogurt in the blender. Add banana or other fruit. Vanilla, cocoa or carob add additional flavor. Sweeten with sorghum. Blend the mixture until smooth and creamy and serve cold any time of year.

Some main dishes such as teriyaki or fish entrees are prepared with a sweetener. Experiment with sorghum syrup. You may be pleased with the results.

It's fun to try new ingredients, techniques and tools in the kitchen. Sorghum is a sweetener that you may have heard of but never had the gumption to try. Next time you spot it while food shopping, toss a jar into your cart and discover the possibilities in your kitchen.

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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