Grain Sorghum - How To Grow And Use? How To Thresh And What To Cook? Varieties, Photo

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Grain Sorghum - How To Grow And Use? How To Thresh And What To Cook? Varieties, Photo
Grain Sorghum - How To Grow And Use? How To Thresh And What To Cook? Varieties, Photo

Video: Grain Sorghum - How To Grow And Use? How To Thresh And What To Cook? Varieties, Photo

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Video: Forages - Stretching Your Grazing Resources 2023, January

One of the advantages of country life is the ability to independently grow organic products. And if vegetables and fruits are relatively easy to grow and pick with your own hands, then, as a rule, when trying to grow cereals, many cool off to this venture. How many grains are in a spikelet? How to get them out of there? How long will it take to harvest and thresh without special equipment? And what about the final output of flour? In this article I would like to talk about grain sorghum. This amazing cereal is easy to grow, yielding, easy to harvest, and most importantly - useful and very pleasant to the taste.

Grain sorghum - how to grow and use?
Grain sorghum - how to grow and use?


  • What is sorghum?
  • Sorghum varieties for the middle lane
  • My experience with growing sorghum
  • How to thresh sorghum by hand?
  • The value of sorghum as a food product and not only
  • What do we cook from sorghum

What is sorghum?

Roughly speaking, sorghum is the very “brooms” that make grain sorghum from the stems of this plant (crown sorghum), their closest relative. Another name for edible sorghum is sorghum bicolor (Sorghum bicolor).

Originally a cereal crop sorghum originated in Africa in time immemorial (about ten thousand years ago). Currently, the plant is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions.

At the same time, sorghum is the fifth largest grain crop in the world after rice, wheat, corn and barley. Over the past 50 years, the area under sorghum cultivation in the world has increased by 66% and continues to grow.

Grain sorghum is an annual plant with strong, powerful stems that can grow over 4 meters in height. The leaves are sessile, linear-lanceolate, long and relatively wide, arranged alternately on both sides. Depending on the variety, sorghum can have from one to 5 stems. The panicle can reach a height of 15 to 70 centimeters. The grain is small, round, with a diameter of 2 to 4 millimeters.

Grains of sorghum bicolor are used for food preparation, feed for farm animals and poultry, as well as for ethanol production. Experts consider sorghum to be a promising use as biofuel in bioelectric power plants. At the same time, the use of ethyl alcohol obtained from the plant as a fuel will partially solve the problem of harmful emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide.

Sorghum is a very unpretentious cereal crop, the plant is able to successfully withstand hot and arid climates, and it can grow even in the absence of artificial irrigation. Grain sorghum quite easily adapts to a variety of soil conditions and gives yields even on soils where other crops are not able to grow.

Edible sorghum, or sorghum bicolor (Sorghum bicolor) - a very unpretentious cereal crop
Edible sorghum, or sorghum bicolor (Sorghum bicolor) - a very unpretentious cereal crop

Sorghum varieties for the middle lane

Grain sorghum varieties are divided into early maturing (from 75 to 100 days); mid-ripening (from 101 to 120) and late-ripening (from 121 to 140 days). Since sorghum is sown directly into the soil, only early-ripening varieties of sorghum can be successfully cultivated in the middle lane.

The main problem is that this culture is still little known to Russian gardeners, there is no particular demand for it, which means that the supply is also limited. In general, sorghum seeds are not easy to find. In Ukraine, farmers have already begun to take interest in grain sorghum, and there are several varieties of this crop, however, most likely, their seeds can only be purchased in bulk.

Nevertheless, in retail online stores of plant collectors, you can find the only sorghum variety, which is just the earliest maturing and has been successfully tested by amateur gardeners in our latitudes. The cultivar comes from the northern part of China and is called Ba Ye Qi ("Ba-E-Ki"). According to some reports, the name translates as "8 leaves", since more than eight leaf blades do not develop on the stem. Sorghum varieties "Ba-E-Ki" can be harvested within 75 days after germination.

My experience with growing sorghum

We sowed the seeds of sorghum "Ba-E-Ki" directly into the ground in mid-May. Quite large seeds were spread in a furrow about 3 centimeters deep at a distance of about 2 centimeters between seeds, watered well, covered with earth and mulched with a thin layer of peat to avoid cracks. The seeds germinated for a little over a week.

Sorghum seedlings, like young plants, are absolutely identical to corn, and before the panicles appeared, the thought that we had confused something and still grow corn, and not this amazing cereal, did not leave me. At first, seedlings develop relatively slowly, but ultimately, in our climate, grain sorghum grows taller than human growth: plus or minus 2 meters. Grows without stepchildren in one stem, which is crowned with a large red-brown panicle.

We were harvesting by simply cutting off the panicles with a pruner, in early September. Most of the grain was ripe, although the summer was rainy and rather cold. Our sorghum grew practically on self-sufficiency at the end of the garden. Without watering and dressing. Protection from pests and diseases was also not required for him.

During the summer, the hard stems did not die, although it was sown in one small row. Lodging began only closer to autumn, when it was possible to harvest. By the way, when the panicles were ready to harvest, the stems acquired amazing bright red accents and became a unique autumn decoration of the site.

For almost half of the winter, sorghum panicles stood in the kitchen as an interior decoration, and at the same time only a few grains fell off. Therefore, if you are late in harvesting, this culture may well wait. But when, finally, curiosity won out, and we decided to try a curiosity, the question arose - how to thresh sorghum? Fortunately, it turned out to be very easy and simple to do.

Sorghum leaves and stems resemble corn, but differ in red veins and markings
Sorghum leaves and stems resemble corn, but differ in red veins and markings

How to thresh sorghum by hand?

There are several options for threshing sorghum, but for me the easiest way was to place the panicle in a fabric bag, fixing the top with one hand (so that the grains do not crumble), and with the other very actively knead and rub over the fabric, contributing to the maximum separation of the grains.

Under mechanical action, the grains fall off the branches quite easily, so the whole process does not take much time and effort. After several minutes of this procedure, you need to carefully remove and inspect the panicle, if there are quite a lot of grains left, then you can repeat the process.

It is not worth striving to thresh every single grain. The grains sitting tightly on the branches, most likely, simply did not mature, which means that in the future it will be impossible to clean them of the covering scales. Usually, after threshing, 10-20% of unripe kernels remain on the panicle and they can be safely thrown away or fed to birds.

At the end of threshing, simply pour the grain from the bag into the prepared container. But that's not all. The next step is to clear the grains from coarse shells. Fortunately, no special equipment is needed here either, although a corrugator could of course easily handle sorghum.

If you get by with improvised means, then you need to prepare a small piece of cloth, for example, a towel and a rolling pin. Pour the grains onto one edge of the towel and cover with the other on top, then, with a little effort, roll them over the grains with a rolling pin in different directions. Pour the husked grains from a towel into a saucepan with ordinary tap water and mix.

To thresh sorghum, place the panicle in a cloth bag and knead it with your hands
To thresh sorghum, place the panicle in a cloth bag and knead it with your hands
Sorghum seeds are placed in a towel and rolled with a rolling pin
Sorghum seeds are placed in a towel and rolled with a rolling pin

As a result of this, a full grain will settle to the bottom, and debris will remain on the surface: news, scales and unripe seeds, which will need to be drained. Typically, the process needs to be repeated 3-4 times, shaking the water in the pan and draining the top layer of debris until you have clean grain. Next, the water is drained through a sieve, and the grains are poured onto a towel to dry. The groats are ready!

Full-weight sorghum grain will sink to the bottom, leaving debris on the surface
Full-weight sorghum grain will sink to the bottom, leaving debris on the surface
Sorghum groats after threshing with a fraction slightly larger than buckwheat
Sorghum groats after threshing with a fraction slightly larger than buckwheat

The value of sorghum as a food product and not only

In Africa and Asia, sorghum successfully replaces other grains, and in some countries it is the main food product for making flat bread (flat cakes). In China, sorghum is also used to make beer and liquor. You can cook porridge from sorghum, pre-pitched in a blender or in a grain coffee grinder to obtain a more delicate porridge. Whole grains can be added as a cereal to soup.

That is, sorghum is used in cooking in the same way as rice, quinoa and couscous, and can serve as their counterpart in different dishes. Sorghum has a very unusual taste, unlike any of the cereals we know, but it can be described as unambiguously pleasant with a slight nutty flavor.

By the way, sorghum grains can be consumed even raw, because in dried form it does not become stone, but only slightly harder than nuts. In my opinion, raw sorghum is a bit like a walnut, and the longer you chew it, the more the similarity increases and the softer it tastes. Due to its possibility of consumption without processing, sorghum is an ideal product for raw foodists.

Gluten-free products are in great demand today. It is used not only by people with celiac disease (gluten intolerance) and autism spectrum disorder, but also by those who want to lose weight, as well as those who consider gluten harmful to their health. In this regard, gluten-free sorghum flour is an excellent alternative to wheat flour.

The ratio of carbohydrates and proteins in sorghum and wheat is the same 1: 7, which is the best among other types of cereals. Sorghum flour is rich in B vitamins, antioxidants, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and vegetable fats, which are beneficial for the cardiovascular system.

It is important that sorghum flour has a low glycemic index. It follows from this that it is digested more slowly and gives a feeling of fullness for a longer time than products made from other types of flour, and is suitable for diabetic nutrition.

Sorghum flour can be used to bake bread, biscuits, pies and cakes. The taste of flour is not pronounced, slightly sweet, with a slight bitterness. When baking, it is recommended that you use more eggs or liquid (milk) than is required in wheat flour recipes. You can also add starch (tapioca or corn) to sorghum flour. Or in the absence of gluten intolerance - 30% wheat flour.

Steamed sorghum is an ideal livestock feed, and pigs eat it more readily than corn. Compared to maize, studies have shown that sorghum has more nutritional value in feeding dairy cattle. Sorghum grain can be fed directly to chickens in panicles. Poultry farmers note that this feed increases the egg production of the bird.

The stalks of sorghum are composed of separate, well-defined internodes, and in this way are very reminiscent of bamboo, although, of course, not as hard. However, sorghum stalks are suitable for making crafts such as mats or rugs like bamboo.

Sorghum porridge can be eaten as a separate dish
Sorghum porridge can be eaten as a separate dish

What do we cook from sorghum

The first product we made from sorghum is a coffee drink. As it turned out, it is really very easy to make "coffee" from sorghum at home. To do this, the husked grains are slightly dried in a frying pan, after which they are ground into powder in a coffee grinder or a special blender mill.

Then 1-2 teaspoons of the powder are poured with boiling water and infused for several minutes, filtered. After that, you can add milk and sugar to taste. "Coffee" turns out to be similar to the well-known coffee drink "Kolos", but it has a more interesting and rich aroma. If you roast the beans harder, the taste becomes closer to real coffee, but part of the characteristic cereal aroma is lost.

At the same time, during strong roasting, the grains begin to explode characteristically, that is, homemade popcorn can be completely prepared from sorghum. It tastes as good as the traditional one, but, of course, the small grains of sorghum, due to their size, are much inferior to popcorn from corn.

We also liked sorghum porridge. The only caveat, although I cooked it in a slow cooker for a little over an hour, the cereal did not become boiled and tender, but retained a dense consistency and crumbly structure. That is, you will have to chew sorghum porridge. In consistency, it reminds me of boiled corn kernels.

Nevertheless, the slightly rough structure does not spoil the taste of the porridge at all. This is a very unusual and tasty cereal, which tastes a bit like nuts and corn. Sorghum porridge can be eaten with pleasure as an independent dish, adding a piece of butter and a pinch of salt.

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