What Is Sorghum?
Sorghum is a member of the plant family Fabaceae. It belongs to the same genus as corn (Zea mays), but it differs from corn in its smaller size, having leaves with five leaflets instead of six, and having different growth habits. Its seeds are very small and resemble those of peas or beans.
The seeds of sorghum germinate within a few days after being sown. They sprout quickly and produce large plants in just two years. The seedlings grow slowly until they reach maturity at which time they begin to flower and bear fruit.
The fruits vary in color from yellow to red and have a sweet taste.
Sorghum is widely grown worldwide as a food source. It is often used in cooking, as well as for fuel and other industrial purposes. Some uses include paper pulp, starch, animal feed, fertilizer and biofuel.
How Does Sorghum Work?
Sorghum does not contain gluten and is, therefore, suitable for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. Many people who are allergic to wheat can safely eat sorghum without suffering any adverse reactions.
Sorghum is an excellent source of several nutrients, including dietary fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, manganese, and folate. It is also a good source of iron, phosphorus and copper.
Due to the high fiber content of sorghum, it can help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It is also a good source of several B-complex vitamins that help convert the food you eat into energy. The iron in sorghum helps improve blood circulation and the manganese it contains acts as a co-factor for various antioxidant enzymes.
What Is Sorghum Used For?
Sorghum is a very important crop in developing countries. It can be used as human food and as animal feed, and it also has industrial uses. While some types of sorghum produce edible grains, other types are grown for forage or woody biomass. It is a drought-resistant crop that grows well on land that won’t support the growth of other crops.
Some types of sorghum can be grown in wetland conditions that would drown out other crops. Overall, sorghum is a very versatile crop that can grow in a variety of different soil types and climate conditions. It provides food, feed, fiber, fuel and even alcohol.
What Does Sorghum Look Like?
Sorghum plants can reach between three and twelve feet in height, but are typically around four to seven feet tall. Their woody stalks are branched and the leaf blades are typically around three to six inches long. The plants have a milky white sap and produce a large number of small flowers that grow in a clumped fashion on the top of the branches.
The sorghum seeds vary in color, but often range from reddish brown to dark brown or black. Some varieties have stripes or spots. These seeds can be eaten raw, but are usually cooked before consumption.
They can be cooked with food or ground into flour.
Where Is Sorghum Grown?
Sorghum is native to Africa, but it is now grown worldwide across the globe. It grows especially well in hot, arid conditions and doesn’t require much in the way of cultivation. It is also drought-resistant and can be grown without much additional watering.
Sorghum is cultivated throughout the world, but the largest producers are China, India, the United States of America, Pakistan, Guatemala, Mexico and Turkey. Most of the sorghum that is grown for industrial purposes in the United States is grown in Kansas.
How Is Sorghum Used?
Sorghum can be eaten cooked or uncooked. Most varieties have a sweet flavor, although this can vary depending on soil conditions and growing practices. The grains can be boiled and eaten alone or cooked in a stew or soup. They can also be crushed, baked, boiled or roasted to make flour, or processed into malt for brewing. Battered and fried sorghum grains are a favorite snack food in India.
Sorghum syrup, also known as “gur” or “jaggery,” is another popular foodstuff that can be made from the sugar in sorghum. The syrup is often used as a sweetener and cooking ingredient in many different dishes. It can be substituted one-for-one in recipes that call for honey or sugar.
In Nigeria, a popular alcoholic beverage known as “pasmo” is made from sorghum. The traditional method of preparation involves grinding the grains into meal and mixing it with water to create a thick paste. The paste is spread out in small rounds that are left to dry in the sun.
After they have dried, the rounds are wrapped in leaves and placed in a pit where they are soaked with water and lain upon until fermentation occurs.
During this process, mold may grow on the rounds and this is considered to be a good thing for giving the pasmo its unique taste. The pasmo may be drunk in this form or left to further mature for several months.
In Africa, the grains of sorghum are often made into porridge and gruel. The plant’s stalks can be used for thatching roofs and making baskets. In addition, the stalk can be ground into a powder that can be mixed with clay to make bricks for building houses.
How Is It Grown?
Sorghum prefers dry, hot climates and can be grown either in fields or in pots. The plants can tolerate some level of drought, but will grow best if watered on a regular basis.
Sorghum prefers a sandy or loamy soil and does not grow well in clay or marshy soils. It cannot tolerate humidity or flooding and does not grow well near trees.
The crop grows best at a temperature of around 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) and cannot tolerate frost.
Sorghum can grow to a height of between 3 and 12 feet (1 and 4 meters). One plant can produce between 20,000 and 100,000 grains, with the average yield being around 40,000. There are between 300 and 400 grains in 1 ounce, and 1,400 ounces in one pound.
How Is It Processed?
Sorghum grains do not need to be processed before they are eaten. They can be boiled, baked or roasted and have a sweet, nutty flavor. If the grains are dried, ground into flour and mixed with water or other liquids, they can be used to make pancakes or bread.
The stalks of the sorghum plant are harder than the grains and must be cooked thoroughly (boiled for at least 10 minutes) before they can be eaten.
Sorghum syrup is also known as “gur” or “jaggery,” and is usually made from the sugar in the plant rather than the starch. To make 1 quart (1 liter) of sorghum syrup, take 3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) of sugar and dissolve it in a quart of water.
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