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What’s the difference between sorghum and molasses? How does sorghum grow? In fact, what is sorghum to begin with?

sorghum cane being processed

This tall, broad-leaf plant resembles corn in the field, but the grain crop is best known for its end product: sweet sorghum syrup. That’s different than plain old sugar cane, which yields molasses, or, for that matter, the trees that yield maple syrup.

Where is sorghum grown? Kentucky and Tennessee lead the nation in sorghum production, though the crop is also grown in a number of other states, including Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi and Texas.

Sorghum cane is typically harvested during September and October. Many sorghum syrup producers extract the juice from freshly cut plants right in the field. The bright green juice then goes back to the mill, where it is kept, heated, in a holding tank. To avoid spoilage and produce the best syrup, they cook it the next day, thickening into light amber syrup that is then bottled. Ten gallons of raw sorghum juice yields about 1 gallon of syrup.

sweet sorghum syrup

One tablespoon of sorghum syrup supplies all of the average adult’s daily potassium needs. It’s also high in antioxidants, contains 300 mg of protein, 30 mg of calcium, 20 mg of magnesium and 11 mg of phosphorus – all in 1 tablespoon. In fact, it is 100 percent natural and contains no chemical additives of any kind. (Look for the “Sweet Sorghum” logo to ensure you’re purchasing 100 percent pure sweet sorghum.)

Store sorghum as you would honey, at room temperature. If it begins to crystallize, put it in a pan of warm water or nuke it in the microwave. In fact, you can use sorghum as a substitute for honey (in recipes that don’t use baking powder). When substituting sorghum in place of sugar, use 1/3 more sorghum than the amount of sugar called for in the recipe and decrease the amount of liquids by 1/3. When using sorghum instead of molasses, use an equal amount of sorghum but cut the amount of sugar, since sorghum is sweeter than molasses.

Source: National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association

Article From: Farm Flavor -

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  1. Ramona M Crabtree says:

    I’m still confused as to the difference between Sorghum and Molasses. For many years, my grandfather had horses pull a wringer type deal around to squeeze the juices out of “Cane” then they’d boil it and boil it, and dip off the foam, etc. They’d have stir-offs, play games, etc while the juices were cooking over a fire in a pit, with a huge elongated pan. We’d dip the cane in the syrup but always called it MOLASSES. NOW, I’m told Molasses are cooked, then after sitting 2 days, milk is added? I guess we always ate Sorghum instead of molasses? Please advise!

    • Jessy Yancey says:

      Hi Ramona,

      My understanding is that sorghum cane produces sorghum syrup, which is also known as “sweet sorghum” or “sorghum molasses” and sometimes colloquially called simply “molasses.” However, technically speaking, molasses would be made from sugar cane or sugar beets, but not sorghum. Does that make sense?

      Hope this helps!

      Jessy Yancey

  2. Tricia Westgate says:

    What is the shelf life of Sorghum Syrup? Thanks.

  3. Othella Burns says:

    excellent information. Gave me exactly what I was looking for on this topic.

  4. Linda R. says:

    I found this interesting because I was unaware of the nutritional value of sorghum. I recently heard farmers use sorghum to enrich their soil and would like to know more about that.

  5. SDM says:

    My grandfather was an early version of an entrepreneur; he had a farm, a tree clearing service, a saw mill and grew sorghum cane, crushed,bottled and marketed it.

    As a youth I always refereed to the product as “sorghum molasses” which at almost 84 years young I still use the term.

    My dear wife who is Canadian born always questioned me who I refereed to molasses as sorghum molasses. I always relied “Because that is the complete correct name!”

    After reading your web site I note there is a marked difference – but- Am I correct or incorrect to use the term sorghum molasses?


  6. Chris Hansen says:

    1) Definition of “molasses” Webster’s unabridged
    a.Any thick syrup derived from any source
    Example: Bobby Flay makes “pomegranate molasses”
    by merely boiling down the juice
    (reducing) it to a thickened state
    2) Sugar cane sourced “black-strap molasses” is a
    by-product of making white sugar and retains the
    sugar that cannot be extracted during the sulphured
    or un-sulphured sugar making process. The
    un-sulphured process black-strap molasses tends to
    result in a higher content of sugar due to a milder
    a.most sugarcane sourced black-strap molasses has
    a sugar content of 40-50%
    b.the use of the word “molasses” in most markets
    has been dominated by the sugarcane products
    industry. Most people have never heard of
    sorghum molasses/syrup. By definition maple
    syrup could be called “maple molasses”.
    Molasses as a term was used in conjunction with
    Sorghum before sugarcane replaced it as the
    preferred american sweetener in the 1800’s due
    the beautiful “white sugar” produced from
    sugarcane. Sorghum syrup/molasses contains dark
    biflavinoids that make sugar produced from it
    dark/brownish. The brown or amber colors are
    called “ash” when referring to lab analysis.
    c.Sorghum molasses has a brix of 78-83 depending
    on how far you boil it down (water content)
    d.actual sugar content is lower than the brix
    at around 72-75%.
    So it is not just alright to call sorghum syrup molasses, it is the technically correct term for it and is also historically correct. To say otherwise is to deny the truth in an attempt th9o disassociate the “sorghum industry” from the sugarcane industry who through a 100 year domination has in essence “highjacked” the word molasses.

  7. Rosa says:

    How many mg of sugar has one tablespoon of sorghum?

  8. Sandra Russell says:

    I never knew how much nutrition was in Sorghum molassas. Thank you for this info! Im going to eat a small cup of this & peanutbutter. Good-bye icecream! Maybe together? :)

  9. Grace says:

    My husband’s mother made a cake icing from sorghum and Karo syrup that he loved. He has told me that it hardened like a shell after a few minutes and was a light caramel color. I would like to make it for him as a surprise but can’t find a recipe anywhere. Can anyone help me? He grew up on a farm and they grew their own sorghum.

  10. Cindy says:

    I am still trying to figure out what the shelf life of Sorghum syrup. I cleanned out an old house..and there were several jars…from Hugh’s Pure North Georgia..I tried calling them..but didn’t get an answer….thought maybe you could help. I would like to try it if it is safe like Honey…thanks

    • Rachel says:

      My understanding is that it has the same shelf life of honey, reg molasses and even a good pure maple syrup. It is good until it is gone. You store it just like honey at room temp and if it starts to get crystallized you just warm it in a pan of warm water exactly like honey. I have never had any good quality pure version of any of those go bad on me. However I am more careful with ones that are flavored with other things, those I keep in the fridge then just warm jently to use. I hope this helps :-)

  11. Mike Carpenter says:

    looking to purchase 300 Metric Tons (liquid) per month 12 months, US delivery.

  12. Pat Siddons says:

    I was interested to see what you posted about nutritional value of sorghum molasses. My gràndfather used to make it in Kentucky and I had heard that it provided a good ámount of iron as well. Is this true?

  13. raphael says:

    Webster’s unabridged dictionary is simply made of guys and gals just like you and me(yes, ‘me’ is correct) that write their opinion, and readers (especially Americans) believe whatever they see on tv or read. You can call it what you want. My grandfather also referred to it as sourghum molasses. so what.

  14. Laura Braun says:

    By how much should I cut down on the sugar (3/4 cup lightbrown sugar) when using 1/4 cup of sorhgum? Making pfeffernusse cookies. Thanks

  15. Lois Wilson says:

    I look forward to driving to Tennessee from New York every year and buying a case or two of Sorghum. I’m addicted to it. Love, love, love it!! I could eat a whole jar of it!! Yumm!!!