Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal in the world.
In addition to food production, it is also used for technical purposes and as fodder.
But most of us don’t know much about this versatile plant.
As a food, it is often associated with healthy eating.
What can everything be used for in the kitchen?
Let’s take a closer look at this interesting crop.
What is sorghum?
Many people who do not work in agriculture have never heard of sorghum or are not sure what it actually is. However, sorghum plays an important role in the lives of millions of people around the world, including yours. Cereals are the main food of almost all peoples of the world.
While we most often imagine the quartet of wheat, barley, rye and oats as cereals, in other parts of the world completely different plants are much more important cereals. Sorghum is undoubtedly one of them. Its worldwide importance is mainly due to its natural resistance to drought and versatility of use.
In Africa and parts of Asia, sorghum is grown primarily for human consumption, while in the United States it is mainly used as livestock feed and for ethanol production. Knowledge of sorghum as a food has been growing in recent years, thanks to the popularity of gluten-free foods. It is not for nothing that it is sometimes nicknamed celiac wheat .
What does sorghum taste like?
When it comes to the taste of sorghum, unflavored sorghum itself reminds most people of pearl barley, which is also known as sorghum, or partly also millet. In the vast majority of cases, however, it is seasoned with various spices or eaten with other ingredients as part of one dish, for example risotto.
Uses of sorghum
There are more than twenty-five different types of sorghum in the world. However, various types of common sorghum, also known as bicolor sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), are of economic importance.
- grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor eusorghum) – is grown mainly for grain
- technical sorghum (Sorghum bicolor technicum) – is grown for the production of various items such as brushes, brooms, as well as building material and fodder
- Sudanese sorghum or Sudanese grass (Sorghum bicolor sudanense) – is mainly grown as fodder for farm animals
- sugar sorghum (Sorghum bicolor saccharatum) – various syrups and sweeteners are made from its sweet juice
One of the advantages of sorghum is its very diverse use. In terms of food use, in addition to flour, it is also used to make various fermented and non-fermented beverages.
Thickened sugar syrups are made from sugar sorghum, which are further fermented into alcohol. Due to its gluten-free nature, sorghum is an excellent substitute for wheat, rye and barley for celiacs.
It is also grown as biofuel, its stems are used as building material or for the production of brooms, brushes and brushes. In livestock production, sorghum is used by almost all types of farm animals, from cattle to poultry. The stems and leaves are used for green grass clippings, hay and silage.
Why include sorghum in the diet
Sorghum is a cereal very rich in various nutrients. It contains a large amount of carbohydrates, proteins and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. For this reason as well, it is generally considered a healthy crop that is worth including in our diet for many reasons.
Carbohydrates represent the largest share of sorghum in terms of nutritional value. Their advantage is that they are slowly absorbed. For this reason, sorghum dishes keep us full for several hours. It also contains a large amount of soluble and insoluble fiber.
Nutritional values, vitamins and minerals in sorghum
The nutritional value of cereals is given in their raw state, some values are changed to a certain extent by processing.
|Energy||329 calories||337 calories||354 calories||338 calories||379 calories|
|Water||12.4 g||11.1 g||9.44 g||10.6 g||10.8 g|
|Carbohydrates||72.1 g||70.6 g||73.5 g||75.9 g||67.7 g|
|Proteins||10.6 g||14.5 g||12.5 g||10.3 g||13.2 g|
|Fats||3.46 g||2.13 g||2.3 g||1.63 g||6.52 g|
|Fiber||6.7 g||11.1 g||17.3 g||15.1 g||10.1 g|
It is interesting to compare sorghum with other common cereals for us, such as wheat, barley, oats and rye.
|Vitamin B1||0.332 mg||0.566 mg||0.646 mg||0.316 mg||0.45 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.096 mg||0.184 mg||0.258 mg||0.251 mg||0.155 mg|
|Vitamin B3||3.69 mg||6.38 mg||4.6 mg||4.27 mg||1.12 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.443 mg||0.259 mg||0.318 mg||0.294 mg||0.1 mg|
|Potassium||363 mg||403 mg||452 mg||510 mg||362 mg|
|Phosphorus||289 mg||364 mg||264 mg||332 mg||410 mg|
|Magnesium||165 mg||130 mg||133 mg||110 mg||138 mg|
|Calcium||13 mg||22 mg||33 mg||24 mg||52 mg|
|Zinc||1.67 mg||3.68 mg||2.77 mg||2.65 mg||3.64 mg|
|Iron||3.36 mg||3.77 mg||3.6 mg||2.65 mg||4.25 mg|
Sorghum can be stored for quite a long time, similar to other cereals. It can also be frozen, even after cooking, and reheated later.
- Store uncooked sorghum grains in the pantry in a sealed airtight container, they will keep fresh for about four months.
- Cooked sorghum should be kept in the refrigerator and consumed within a few days. If you freeze it, use it within six months.
Health benefits of sorghum
Sorghum is rich in a number of nutrients, including B vitamins, which play a vital role in metabolism, nerve cell development, as well as hair and skin health. It is also a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that is important for bone formation, heart health and also many biochemical reactions in our body. What other benefits does consuming sorghum bring to our body?
- Digestive system – fiber, which sorghum contains in considerable amounts, benefits the digestive system, especially the intestines. Its consumption is an effective prevention against, for example, constipation.
- Weight regulation – a diet rich in fiber also helps to regulate weight, in addition, the consumption of sorghum ensures a longer feeling of satiety, and is thus one of the foods that are recommended for people who follow reduction diets.
- Antioxidants – sorghum is high in antioxidants such as flavonoids, phenolic acids and tannins. Eating a diet rich in these antioxidants can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
Preparation of sorghum
You can cook this grain similarly to quinoa or rice. Before preparing it, it is advisable to thoroughly rinse the sorghum in cold water and then soak it for several hours. A ratio of 1:3 is usually recommended, i.e. one cup of sorghum and three cups of water.
Afterwards, do not drain the water, boil the sorghum in the same water, just add a pinch of salt to it. Cook gently, usually until all the liquid is absorbed. This usually happens within 20-30 minutes. Then let the sorghum prepared in this way simmer for a few more minutes in the pot under the lid.
If you forget to soak the sorghum, nothing happens, just expect that its cooking time will be longer, approximately 40-50 minutes. In addition to water, you can also cook sorghum in vegetable or meat broth. If you want to use it afterwards to prepare sweet porridge, it can be cooked in classic or vegetable milk.
How to consume sorghum
- You can use cooked sorghum as a side dish to a variety of dishes, similar to rice. Sometimes it is even mixed with rice. It tastes great especially with various recipes for stewed meat with vegetables .
- If you like a variety of salads, you can easily add cooked sorghum to them, just like you do with quinoa or pasta.
- Sorghum can also become an original preserve for soup, you can also use it to prepare a variety of soups .
- Similar to the case of buckwheat, you can prepare various sweet and savory porridges from sorghum. Sweet variants can be flavored with fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, honey or maple syrup. Savory variants are combined with vegetables or cheese.
- Boiled sorghum mixed with minced meat, onion, garlic and other spices is an interesting mixture that you can use in recipes for stuffed pepper pods or stuffed cabbage leaves.
- Are you a risotto lover? Try mixing the rice, or completely replace it with sorghum. You can be inspired by recipes for meat and vegetable risotto , to which sorghum adds a new dimension.
- Last but not least, sorghum can be baked in the oven with mushrooms and a variety of vegetables and sausages, similar to potatoes or buckwheat.
- You can use sorghum flour for baking. It is most often used when preparing pancakes, fritters or cakes, but it can also be used when baking bread and other baked goods.
- As a nutritious snack, you can also prepare a delicacy similar to popcorn from whole sorghum grains. The preparation is very simple. Place the sorghum grains in a clean paper bag. Fold the top of the bag down to seal it and place it folded side down in the microwave. Heat on high for about 2 minutes. Then remove the bag and the sorghum popcorn is ready.
A number of other food products are also produced from grain sorghum, which can be used in the kitchen in many different ways. Most of these products are available at health food stores.
Sorghum flour is a great helper when baking sweet and savory delicacies. It is mostly used in combination with other flours. Its great advantage is gluten-free.
Sorghum semolina is finer than flour. It can be used, for example, in the preparation of porridges, dumplings, to thicken soups and sauces.
Sorghum flakes have a similar variety of uses as oatmeal. They can be used not only to make porridge, but also granola or cookies.
Sorghum syrup is used similarly to the better-known maple syrup or molasses, i.e. mainly in sweet dishes, but it can also be used in dressings or marinades.
A lesser-known product is sorghum beer , which uses malt that comes from the ruzrok sorghum variety.
What does sorghum look like?
Sorghum, like other cereals, belongs to the very large family of ryegrass plants. The sorghum genus (Sorghum) contains more than twenty-five species of sorghum, of which more than half are native to Australia, with other species originating in Africa and Asia.
The most important representative, bicolor sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), comes from Africa. Depending on the variety, sorghum can grow up to four meters tall. In the period from May to September, panicle inflorescences appear on the smooth hard stalks, from which later spikelets with white, yellow, red or brown grains of various sizes and shapes appear.
In addition to hairy underground roots that reach a depth of about one and a half meters, sorghum also creates aerial roots. An interesting fact is that in the event of a lack of water, it will stop its growth and wait until more suitable conditions arise.
Cultivation of sorghum
Sorghum is among the most efficient crops in solar energy conversion and water use and is known as a high-energy, drought-resistant and environmentally friendly crop. Due to the wide use and adaptation of sorghum to a wide range of environments, it is considered one of the indispensable crops needed for the survival of mankind.
It is grown in the tropics and in dry regions of the world. Its other advantage is that it ripens quickly, some species in as little as 75 days, and can provide up to three harvests a year. The earliest evidence of sorghum comes from Nabta Playa, an 8,000-year-old Neolithic site in Africa. Later, thanks to trade routes, sorghum penetrated to other areas of the world.
Historians agree that African crops such as sorghum reached the populated Indus region around 2000 BC. From India, sorghum first spread to China and from there to other countries such as Australia.
The first known mention of sorghum in the United States comes from Ben Franklin in 1757, who wrote about its use in making brooms. The United States of America is currently the largest producer of sorghum, followed by African countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia and Sudan. Among Asian countries, sorghum is widely grown in India and China.