Why does the craft of sorghum making create such a realm of fond memories for anyone caught in the draft of it vapors cooking outdoors over the open fire? The answer to that question lies in the hearts of young children who remember being handed a stick of green cane to chew on that their uncle or grandpa trimmed with his pocket knife. Memories of, as a youngster, getting o help the adults with every part of the process from pulling the leaves off of the canes to pushing the canes through the mill and watching the juice pour out, to helping skim the scum off of the cooking syrup. Having fun and entertainment all the way through to the end process: watching that sweet green juice turn into rich, thick, golden syrup. Sorghum making also brings memories of the end of summer, for everyone loves harvest time!
I appreciate the letters, emails and pictures I have received since starting the “Sorghum Revival” series and publishing the request for all of these in MOTHER EARTH NEWS and GRIT magazines. I am going to post blogs containing these shared stories, pictures, facts and recipes. I hope that it will be an opportunity to reminisce over fond memories together, a chance to share good recipes and a forum to learn and communicate about growing and cooking your own sorghum.
I received a letter from Martha Ponder of Florida who starts her letter with, “I, too, would like to hear of sorghum memories!” So, please share more stories! Here is more of her letter:
When I was 5 years old in 1937, Dad took us on a trek back in the mountains of Kentucky – we lived in a “city”. It was near dark and we saw a bonfire and lots of people and cars all around. We stopped and found they were having a cane grinding – And old mule hooked up to a pole that was attached to the grinder (like a wringer on a washer) which they put through canes grown just for molasses.
That ole mule went round and round for hours. The cane juice was sluiced into a long wooden trough – it was heated from beneath and got bubbling hot. It ran thru several troughs before being done enough to eat. The man gave us little pieces of cane and let us dip into the hot molasses!! First run, thick and lite, last run Black Strap for making cookies and gingerbread, etc.
My sister-in-law told me a tale about these molasses “making” probably in the 1920's. She said there was a family there (it was their farm that was doing the festivities) and there were so many little children that out in the yard, the Moma turned a wash-tub up-side down, poured it full of molasses and gave them a plate of biscuits. They “dipped” and ate and got sticky and FULL!!
I wouldn't mind being one of those children!!
This memory is 75 years old!
Thank you so much Martha!
Photo by Sherry Leverich Tucker
Have a sorghum-making story (and photos) to share? Send them to Letters@MotherEarthNews.com to be a part of the Sorghum Revival here with MOTHER EARTH NEWS.