The sun crests on the North Carolina hill at Harrell Hill Farms. The air is cool and we visit the field early in the morning after a hard rain. The sweet sorghum grass is heavy with dew and ready to be harvested. The grass reaches towards the sky and is over six feet tall. This is sweet sorghum, and Harrell Hill Farms is a member of the National Sweet Sorghum Producers Association and produces a large volume of sweet sorghum syrup, commonly known as molasses. The process of turning grass into syrup takes 24 hours of hard work. Green Sage Cafe visited Harrell Hill Farms to understand how Sorghum is made and the benefits to our customers. The sorghum is cut and gathered, pressed, purified and heated.
Sorghum is an old time sweetener that was once one of the most important crops in the US. Prior to 1890, when sugar processing became mechanized, it was the most important sweetener in the US. Recently, there has been a resurgence of popularity for the product in natural food circles. Processed sugar has no nutritional value. But if you look at the label of Harrell Hill Farms Sorghum Syrup you can see that there are vitamins and minerals. Sorghum was often prescribed to pregnant women as a prenatal vitamin and has been touted to help men’s health at www.menshealth.com/15-diet-tips-your-favorite-foods/.
Sorghum as a crop is important to the economy in Western North Carolina. “The resurgence of Sorghum can help local farmers produce a heritage product and revive the economy” say Doug Harrell owner of Harrell Hill Farms. His family has been working the land in Bakersville since 1790 and Sorghum has been a part of that history. There are three kinds of Sorghum the sweet sorghum that produces molasses, the grain variety which produces a gluten free grain that is fast becoming a flour substitute and finally broom corn which produces seed head fibers that can grow up to 36 inches long and was grown for making brooms and caning. This fascinating and versatile plant is important because it can move us away from empty calories, gluten, and plastics. The Sorghum making at Harrell Hill Farms is a zero waste process. The byproducts are used to feed the grass fed beef on the farm.
Green Sage Cafe is proud to bring Sorghum to Asheville. The Harrell Hills Farms Sorghum Syrup will be available on sale at our stores for the Holidays. We also serve Sorghum Syrup with our pancakes and we use sorghum in nearly all of our baked goods. Sorghum is nourishing and part of our philosophy.