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June is National Sorghum Month

Posted Jun 03 2010 9:26am

Sorghum is one of those grains that most people have not used until they become gluten free.  I had never used sorghum until I started to bake with gluten free grains.  According to the Whole Grains Council , “Sorghum, a cereal grain, is the fifth most important cereal crop in the world, largely because of its natural drought tolerance and versatility as food, feed and fuel. In Africa and parts of Asia, sorghum is primarily a human food product, while in the United States it is used mainly for livestock feed and in a growing number of ethanol plants. However, the United States also has seen food usage on the rise, thanks to the gluten-free benefits of sorghum for those with celiac disease.”

Sorghum, which doesn’t have an inedible hull like some other grains, is commonly eaten with all its outer layers, thereby retaining the majority of its nutrients.  Sorghum also is grown from traditional hybrid seeds and does not contain traits gained through biotechnology, making it nontransgenic (non-GMO).

Some specialty sorghums are high in antioxidants, which are believed to help lower the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and some neurological diseases. In addition, the wax surrounding the sorghum grain contains compounds called policosanols, that may have an impact on human cardiac health. Some researchers , in fact, believe that policosanols have cholesterol-lowering potency comparable to that of statins.

In the Mideast, sorghum is made into cous-cous and flatbread; in Bangladesh it’s boiled like rice, to produce kichuri; and in Honduras, sorghum tortillas are common.

Throughout Africa, you’ll find sorghum porridge or gruel in almost every country, and sorghum flatbreads such as injera , the Ethiopian flatbread (which is made from sorghum or teff or a combination of both). Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are also made from sorghum. Most of these products start with fermented or sprouted sorghum, as these two processes make sorghum’s nutrients more available, while increasing shelf life for greater food safety.

Check out these sorghum-based gluten free beers.
Bard’s Tale Beer
Red Bridge Beer
Green’s Beers
Twin Valley Mills produces a great line of sorghum flours.  According to their website, here are some baking tips using sorghum when baking.  You can order your sorghum grain and flour directly from Twin Valley Mills.

  • Add 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon of corn starch to every cup of sorghum flour to improve smoothness and moisture retention
  • Use xanthan gum as a binder and for moisture retention. Add 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of sorghum flour for cookies and cakes; or 1 teaspoon per cup of flour for breads
  • Add a little extra oil or shortening if you feel your recipes are too dry
  • Add an extra egg or egg white for improved smoothness and crumb structure
  • Add a little extra baking powder and/or soda to boost rising properties
  • Mix recipes longer

Here are some gluten free recipes using sorghum flour Artisanal Sorghum Bread from Gluten Free Girl
Vegan Sorghum Vanilla Cupcakes from Book of Yum

Coconut Sorghum Muffins from Funky Foods
Popping Sorghum (like popcorn)

What is the nutritive value of grain sorghum flour? Per 100 grams, it contains:

Calories 339.0
Calories from fat 29.7
Protein(g) 11.3
Fat (g) 3.3
Saturated fat (g) .457
Fiber (g) 1.7
Carbohydrate (g) 73.0
Iron (mg) 4.4
Sodium (mg) 6
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