Sorghum molasses, also known as sweet sorghum, is a sugary, dark syrup that was widely used throughout the southern United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Instead of using sugar, the recipe calls for juice from sorghum cane. These days, sorghum cane milling is rare except for scattered operations in small family farms across the South. If you don’t have a chance to buy from one of these farmers, you can find your sorghum juice on the Web to make the molasses as instructed below.
Find a place outdoors to build a small wood fire, over which you will boil the sorghum juice to make the molasses.
Build a wood fire and place the large, compartmentalized evaporator pan over the fire.
Pour the sorghum cane juice into each compartment of the heated evaporating pan and bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally with a large wooden paddle.
Let the juice simmer for about 2½ hours.
Use a cooking skimmer or sieve to frequently skim the skin-like surface of the molasses that forms during the cooking process.
Keep an eye on each compartment to see that each batch thickens to a honey-like consistency. If the liquid has a cloudy quality to it, that means the syrup is not yet done.
Remove the molasses from the pan with a large metal ladle when it is dark amber in color with a thick, syrupy consistency. Ladle the syrup into a bottle or other glass container for storage.
- You can exchange the evaporator pan in the above directions for a 3 by 4 foot, 1-foot-deep pan without compartments, and make the molasses in one large batch. Use the finished sorghum molasses as you would use regular molasses, and feel free to substitute it directly in a wide range of recipes. When substituting with sorghum syrup, make sure to use only a third of the sugar or molasses called for in the original recipe, as sorghum molasses is considerably sweeter than the standard variety. Try spooning hot sorghum molasses over buttered biscuits, pancakes or cookies for a traditional, Southern-style snack.
- Do not allow the sorghum molasses to stay in the evaporating pan for too long, or it will become bitter-tasting and burnt. Don't leave the fire smoldering. Make sure that the fire has died out before leaving it unattended for a long period of time.