Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
A high pressure system rolled in today making it a crisp fall day. The leaves are changing daily from their true greens into various mingled colors. Summer crops are on their way out and fuzzy caterpillars are taking the place of destructive insects that have plagued our gardens all season long. It's a good day to make sorghum.
Sorghum takes preparation to make. This year was a small crop because of the drought, which means it wasn't as much work, but it's still a process no matter what the size. Yesterday mom, my boys and me finished stripping off the leaves, cutting off the seedheads and cutting and stacking the canes. A couple of days ago we worked on readying the sorghum mill that sits patiently waiting through the entire year for it's one or two days of glory each year. The stand that the mill sits on had suffered some injuries last year that Daniel was able to repair. We also had to readjust the mill so that the large metal rollers that press the canes were properly spaced. Somehow they have become incorrectly aligned, and though we were able to get it working enough to use this year, before next sorghum season we need to see about getting them spaced more correctly. We also set the pole on top of the mill that turns and works the mill.
This morning before squeezing began I rinsed out the mill to wash away any oil residue left from greasing the cogs and rollers. The old milk cans that we use to catch the juice had to be washed and the strainer lined with two layers of cheesecloth to sieve out all but the sweet, tasty green juice. Wood for the fire had to be gathered and the cooking pan was brought out and washed. We also get mom's lawnmower out to the mill and tie it to the rope on the pole that turns the mill. Then, away we go, squeezing cane and start the flow of sorghum juice!
After the canes are all squeezed we start cooking. The odor of the outdoor fire and the sweet smell of the cooking sorghum is so fresh and earthy. It's probably my favorite part to watch it cook and keeping the syrup moving across the pan. Watching the color and consistency (and taste) change through the process is interesting. Today was a windy day, so we were handy with a strainer to catch leaves and an occasional acorn that feel into the cooker.
The sorghum cooked up sticky and tasty, just like it should. It was a fine day to spend outside with a few friends and family. It was a good day to make sorghum!
Read Making Sorghum for more info on this subject
Photo Credits: top; a jar of freshly cooked sorghum syrup, middle; Mom (Alice) with Nate pushing the cane through the sorghum press, Mom (Alice) stirring the almost done sorghum with neighbor Roxann and Cousin Michelle