Regional Recipes: Ma's Cookin' with Sorghum


I've collected recipes for almost 30 years now, since that first auction when I found the courage to bid on a box of old recipe books. I still get excited when I find old cookbooks, even after all this time.  I pulled out an old cookbook, Ma's Cookin', Mountain Recipes from Ozark Maid Candies. It's authored by "Sis and Jake" and was printed in 1969. I did some looking and there is a Ozark Maid Candies store in Osage Beach, Missouri, but they don't appear to have a website. They have a recipe in the book using sorghum molasses, but before I share it, I did a little research first on just what it is and where it originated.

It turns out that sorghum is grain/grass that was brought here from Africa in the 1800's. Sorghum Molasses was created when experiments to use it as a sugar didn't quite pan out. It's interesting that the biggest producers of sorghum in the beginning were the Midwestern states, but by the end of the 1800's it was mostly a Southern crop. This website has pictures and details on producing sorghum molasses: http://www.herculesengines.com/sorghum/default.html

To me, the discovery of this sweet syrup, made from what is basically a grain crop, is a great example of American ingenuity. You can learn where to purchase the molasses and find a listing of festivals on the The National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association website: http://www.ca.uky.edu/nssppa/index.html.

If you'd like to try a classic recipe using Sorghum Molasses, this is a good, easy recipe from the cookbook I mentioned above. A note on the taste: the sorghum syrup has a milder taste, unlike regular molasses. You could substitute it for honey or corn syrup in recipes and use it much the same as you would maple syrup.

Sorghum Molasses Pie

2 cups sorghum molasses
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon melted butter
juice of one lemon
pinch of nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat well. Pour into pastry and bake in a moderate oven until done.

My notes: 350 degrees F. is considered moderate heat. You can use a homemade standard pie crust or any of the premade crusts for the pastry.

I hope you enjoyed this little taste of U. S. culinary history.

~Brenda