Sorghum Syrup

Friday, Aug 9th, 2013

What flavor is your sugar?

This is a question we ask ourselves when we start developing a dish. Sugar, for us, is a family, not that white granulated stuff in a bag in your cupboard, or in a bin in your pastry department. That’s sucrose, and before I open that can of worms, I’ll save this broad topic for a later date.

I just hung up the phone with a lovely man named Mike, from Louisville Kentucky, who produces the sorghum syrup we buy at Blackbird. He was describing the nuances in his process and the outcome in the quality of the product. I knew little about how the sticky brown syrup in jugs in my pantry came to be and I began looking into it further on the internet. The long grass, similar to sugar cane, is grown regionally from Kentucky to Tenesee. Much like sugar cane, it can be juiced, and that juice can be reduced and turned into something much like molasses.

I could wax poetic about the unique flavor of this molasses, or discuss it’s behavioral properties in culinary applications, but that’s not what stirs me about Sorghum syrup. It’s the fact that this sweetener has escaped commercialization. Sorghum syrup is made much as it ever has been, juiced through geared machinery located very near the fields, filtered, reduced over an open flame, and skimmed by hand. Due to the single annual harvest of sorghum vs. sugar cane’s perennial crop, sorghum was never favored as a commercial source of sugar. This has left the dwindling production of sorghum syrup in the hands of small farmers who produce the product once a year for the sake of creating sorghum syrup.

Hand crafted, regionally specific, produced with love, deliciously nuanced, brown sticky sugar.