Are you using sorghum yet? If not, the time has come. This gluten-free heirloom grain is high in protein, iron, and dietary fiber, boasting a mild flavor and a fantastic versatility that allows it to be used in everything from salads to breads to pasta. And yet even given this grocery list of benefits, many people have never heard of the sorghum grain.
What is Sorghum?
It may be relatively uncommon, but the sorghum grain is actually the fifth largest cereal crop in the world. It is naturally tolerant to drought and frequently consumed by populations throughout the world, particularly in Africa. In fact, it probably came from Africa to America back in the 19th century.
So if sorghum has been in our soil for over a century, why haven't we heard of it? Because until recently, sorghum in American was much more frequently used either as animal feed or in the production of byproducts, such as ethanol or sorghum syrup.
A Rose by Any Other Name...
Another reason you might not have encountered sorghum yet is because this is not its only name. Milo, guinea corn, kafir corn, dura, mtama, jowar, and kaoliang are all words referring to the sorghum grain, which can range in color from white to purple to reddish brown. Most commonly, it will have a pale yellow or bronze-brown color, making it particularly beautiful in salads.
Sorghum image via Shutterstock
Is it Good for You?
Like many gluten-free ancient grains, sorghum boasts an impressive nutritional profile. Its outer hull is edible, a unique benefit that isn't shared with all cereals, and the retention of this hull means that sorghum's variety of nutrients, including antioxidants, cholesterol-lowering policosanols, protein, and a great deal of fiber, aren't lost during processing.
If you haven’t welcomed this ancient grain into your pantry yet, there’s a fantastic new incentive to do so thanks to Edison Grainery, a company that has recently released several organic sorghum products, including pastas, sorghum berries, and sorghum flour, all of which contain sorghum grown in California.
Sorghum Grain Recipes
Here are some of our favorite ways to use these organic sorghum products in the kitchen.
Whole Sorghum Grain Recipes
Whole sorghum berries are delicious in salads, like a Greek-inspired sorghum salad with feta, pine nuts, and cucumber. You could also try whole sorghum berries in this salad, where it's topped with fresh tomatoes, corn, and tarragon.
But sorghum berries don't have to be limited to salads. They're also delicious in these sorghum bowls with black beans, avocado, and amaranth (another tasty heirloom grain), or as the filling in these sweet corn and sorghum stuffed peppers.
Sweet Sorghum Recipes
Sorghum is just as tasty in your favorite baked goods. Use organic sorghum flour to make this gluten-free blackberry corn cake, which is just as tasty for breakfast as it is for dessert. These sorghum pancakes also do double duty -- they're lovely in the morning with some maple syrup. For dessert, top with fresh fruit and whipped cream or even ice cream.
This gluten-free sugar cookie recipe is super simple and completely devoid of gums, a plus for gluten-free baking. And these sorghum molasses cookies are doubly packed with this heirloom grain when you make them with both sorghum flour and sorghum molasses, a traditional sweetener from the American south.
Sorghum Pasta and Bread Recipes
Sorghum flatbread image via Shutterstock
The newly released organic sorghum pasta is great when you need to get dinner on the table fast, but sorghum flour can also be used to make fresh sorghum pastas, including these sorghum egg noodles or this fresh sorghum and millet pasta.
And this sorghum flatbread is a delicious base for your favorite Indian recipes in place of roti, as part of a Mexican-flavored fiesta, or as a base for a wrap for lunch on the go.
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Sorghum image via Shutterstock