sweet sorghum syrup

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

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.

See More: White Sorghum is the Other Grain in Arkansas

sorghum cane being processed

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.

Learn More: Swapping to Grain Sorghum in Alabama

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.

One tablespoon of sorghum syrup supplies 200 mg of potassium, 6 percent of the recommended daily value for the average adult. 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.)

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Learn More: Sorghum – Nebraska’s Comeback Grain

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.

Capture sorghum’s sweetness in tasty recipes like Bacon Sorghum Cornmeal Sandies and Sorghum Ice Cream.

Source: National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association


  1. 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!

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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?


  5. 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.

  6. 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? 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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 🙂

  13. 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!!!

  14. Honey lasts eternally, and I expect molasses are in the same category. Archaeologists have recovered honey from the tombs of the ancient Egyptians. Honey is highly antiseptic and has been used for wound treatment. Taste your molasses, and if it tastes bad, throw it out. If it doesn’t, it’s still good, and you can safely will what you don’t use to generations to come.

  15. I have a jar of molasses that is undoubtedly 20 years old. I use it on my biscuits (which I don’t have very often). It tastes as good now as it did when I first purchased it. I keep it in my pantry. It’s so old it doesn’t show any of the nutritional information or “ingredients”. It is the unsulphured molasses. LOVE IT. Just today, I put some in my coffee — that is good too. Yeah, I’m “different”.

  16. My grandfather made sorghum molasses in Sugar Creek, Ky. with a neighbor. He grew the cane, ground it up on a mill, cooked it and we loved it. I was there, about 3 or 4 years old, and I fell into the “cool” end of the long pan, which was in the ground, and was burned on my legs, but they healed over time with no scars. I was saved by holding onto the pole erected on one side to keep a small son of the other man from falling into the pan. My mother took me with her as she went to take water or food to Grandpa. I was 3 or 4 years old, and this happened in about 1934 or 35. I remember it happening and everybody in the neighborhood talking about it for years.

  17. Found a gallon of sorghum that was about 30 years old several years ago and gave it to the grandson of the maker. It was still good. Is there a certain type of sorghum cane that would be best for making sorghum? I’d like to buy a mill and make some myself.

  18. Be careful where you buy it from. One restaurant in Alabama sells it and they add corn syrup to it, I guess to make it sweeter. Unfortunately I didn’t know this until I got it home. It went right into the garbage!

  19. Hughs in north Ga, by far is still the best in making 100% pure real sorghum syrup, just ask any one from union or towns county Ga,

  20. I go to the Amish people around Marion, KY to get my sorghum molasses. Was just there in November and got several jars of their fresh batch. It’s the best tasting sorghum I’ve ever had. I drove all the way from New Mexico to get it. I love this stuff, and didn’t realize it was also so good for you, now I’m even happier. This stuff stores and lasts like honey, but I’m switching over and using sorghum more and more to replace where I would normally eat honey. For instance, I used to use a little honey when I make a gallon of iced tea, now I’ve switched to using a little sorghum instead, and I gotta tell you, it brings a whole new flavor, not as sweet and light tasting as honey, more grounded and flavorful. I LOVE sorghum molasses!

  21. I have a friend in Missouri–he belongs to a Navy association that my husband had joined in 1998. I met this man personally a couple of years ago. When he came to the Navy reunion, he brought sorghum for the auction we have during the reunion. I managed to get a jar of it and used the last of it in oatmeal bread I just made. I have a new jar which I got from him last year. In my book, it is better than molasses and is pure with no preservatives. I love it! I’ve also used it in my molasses crisp cookies. I hope to get another jar this coming reunion. Great stuff.

  22. Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s with five siblings, my mom would always make sorghum bread. If we asked for it, she would make it. On each of our plates she placed bread slices OR corn bread sliced open, then she soaked the bread with cold milk, then she drizzled sorghum (what ever amount we wanted) over the milk-soaked bread. Yum. It was good and she let us eat all we wanted. She knew the sorghum was good for us – five kids living in the country in Iowa and we rarely got sick.

  23. My buddy is from KY where they make it. He said every year his community has a festival called “The sorghum Festival”. Apparently Sorghum is not just a fine product but also a way of life.

  24. Chambers Pasta and More
    3318 Washington Street
    Vicksburg MS 39180
    They sell sorghum syrup and will ship it

  25. Try this website to get great molasses,


    I don’t know of a commercial business that makes and sell Molasses in Tennessee.
    Been buying from the Kansas farmers for years and they will stay good for over a year,I buy a gallon at a time. shipping is more than the product ,but worth it.. better than sugar.

  26. Just got back from a trip to Kentucky with a jar of sorghum!!

    Sorghum Cookies

    (single batch makes about 36)

    2 1/4 cups flour
    2 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp ginger
    1 1/2 sticks butter
    1 cup dark brown sugar
    1 egg
    1/4 cup sorghum
    granulated sugar for dusting

    Oven 325 degrees

    Combine the flour, soda, salt and spices. Mix well.

    Cream the brown sugar and butter til very smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beat until creamy.. Add the sorghum and beat until rich snd creamy. Add the dry ingredients and fold in until well combined. It doesn’t say to do this, but I chilled the dough 30 minutes before the next step.
    Form by teaspoonsful into balls (roll in your hands) and then roll in granulated sugar.

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare baking sheets by covering with parchment paper. Place the balls at least 2” apart and bake 7-10 minutes or until they are light brown and cracked on top. Cool on the sheet while the next batch bakes and remove to cooling rack. One batch makes 36 small cookies about 2 1/2” across. Recipe is easily doubled.

  27. My grandfather’s father grew the plant and they he sold sorghum up in North TX under own label. My grandfather always had a jug of it at the dinner table and poured it on everything that he ate, including catfish and crappie.

  28. In order to understand the difference between sweet sorghum and molasses, go to the National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association website to find nutritional information, cooking recipes, the differences between sorghum and molasses, where you can get it at, and other information about the product itself.

  29. I don’t think the statement “One tablespoon of sorghum syrup supplies all of the average adult’s daily potassium needs” is accurate. The recommended intake is 4,700mg a day. Sorghum syrup does not that that much potassium.

  30. Hi Joey, you’re absolutely right! I think we were using an inaccurate source. We’ve corrected this. Appreciate you bringing this to our attention!

  31. I have a botttle. Of unsulphured. Molasses I have tryed it and I don’t like the taste of it is sorghum molasses better tasting

  32. The article states that one tablespoon supplies 200mg OR 6% of the average daily intake….so it’s close to 3000mg ,which is much closer to the 4700mg mark.
    When I was a kid back in the late 50’s/early 60’s my mom’s dad always had sorghum on the table which came from a local mill….we also chewed on sugar cane as a treat!

  33. Carolyn Fields, the recipe says to add eggs one at a time, but the recipe only calls for one egg. ? What is correct? How many eggs?

  34. Marlene, if you look at the last sentence of Carolyn’s recipe you will see that the recipe can easily be doubled. That is when there are two eggs.

  35. “In fact, you can use sorghum as a substitute for honey (in recipes that don’t use baking powder).” Why don’t you want to use sorghum in recipes with baking powder?

  36. Our facts come from the National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association – they recommend avoiding honey and sorghum substitutions in cookies and cakes if the recipe includes baking powder, because baking soda is needed to neutralize the acidity in sorghum/honey when used in baked goods. So recipes with baking soda should be fine. Hope this helps!

  37. My most favorite uncle was born and raised in Louisiana . My boyhood memories always have him drinking a pot of black coffee and eating lots of bacon every morning . Black Ribbon syrup was used liberally . My mother and aunt tried to get his doctor to forbid eating salt and bacon and such . The doctor rebuked the two sisters telling them to leave him aline , because what ever he was doing was working for him . He went on to outlive both them by years . He was always barefoot in the garden and smoked a corn cob pipe . Yes he did . I love black strap molasses but have come to realize it is an acquired taste like coffee or booze

  38. I know this is an old coversation but if you want one of the best sweet sorghums made look up barking water made by the Seminole Indians in Wewoka Ok. I promise if you are a sorghum lover you will be addicted to thier syrup.

  39. […] One tablespoon of sorghum syrup supplies 200 mg of potassium, 6 percent of the recommended daily value for the average adult. 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. ~ What is Sorghum […]


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