I came across an interesting set of recipes for sorghum flour recently, and as it was (is) a bit of a mystery to me, I decided to share the details with you in the hope that you will share your knowledge of it in return.
First, let us remember that there are many varieties of sorghum, and in the past it has gone by many different names, some less politically-correct than others:
These local names notwithstanding, sorghum is neither millet nor corn (maize). It consists of a genus of grasses with about 30 species with a variety of uses as grain, fodder, a source of syrup (molasses), alcohol (including bio-fuel). It has also been used as a coffee and drinking-chocolate substitute. All of these varieties collectively represent the fifth most important cereal crop in the world.
There was a great interest in growing sorghum in the colony of Australia in the nineteenth century, and agricultural journals gave its cultivation a great deal of space. The recipes I mentioned at the beginning of this post appeared in the Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW) of 30 September, 1871. There were over a dozen recipes in all, and they are quite minimalist by today’s standard, with a high level of assumed knowledge in basic cooking methods. Here is my selection for today:
As the cultivation of Sorgum is likely to be somewhat extensively engaged in shortly in more than one district of this colony, our lady friends will probably be glad to peruse the following receips for Sorghum Cookery.
Coffee Cake. – One pound of sorghum flour, two large cups of sorghum syrup, one-half pound of butter, four eggs, one cup of strong liquid coffee, one pound of chopped raisins, one teaspoonful soda, one tablespoonful of ground cloves – put the soda and cloves into the coffee.
Gingerbread. – One quart of sorghum flour, quarter pound of lard, one ounce of saleratus, one cup of buttermilk, tablespoonful of ginger, a little salt; soak the saleratus over night in the milk – mix soft.
Drop Cakes.- One cup sorghum, one cup lukewarm water, one half-cup shortening, one teaspoonful soda, one of cream of tartar, flour to make a stiff batter; spice to your taste; drop on buttered tins.