Coast Cooking

Coast Cooking: Sorghum is a delightful sweetener

My guess is the average consumer, even in the South, doesn't know much about sorghum molasses.  

If you live in Mississippi north of U.S. 82, you can't grow sugar cane, so sorghum was the only option in days gone by.

For people of my father's generation -- he grew up the son of a Delta tenat farmer -- sorghum was the only sweetening choice.

Don’t misunderstand me, sorghum is certainly not a bad sweetener. Last week I drove to Etta, Mississippi and watcher master sorghum maker, Terry Norwood, spin his magic. Seldom have I had a better time.

If you’re lucky enough to score some Mississippi-made sorghum (try the farmer's markets first), what could you do with it? Well, almost anything you can do with sugar or maple syrup.

It adds a depth to baked goods, will turn your pot of baked beans into an instant crowd favorite, and also is a wonderful ingredient in semi-homemade barbecue sauce (more on that later in the week). 

But the all-time favorite is sorghum molasses, fresh-made biscuits and butter. The biscuit recipe that follows is taken from "What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking," printed in 1881.

1 quart flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lard

Half a teaspoon butter


Combine the flour, lard, salt, and butter until well mixed. Add water until you have a stiff dough, then roll out on a pastry board until "moist and light," and to 1/3 of an inch thickness. Cut into biscuits and bake in a hot oven quickly. Ready when well-browned.

Now comes the tricky part. If you allow the biscuits to cool, then you will miss half the wonder of this treat.

My grandfather said he could never make them come out even, can you?