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Sorghum: A Whole-Grain Star

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Every week, Shauna Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef -- and Gluten-Free Girl Everyday -- will be sharing smart tips and smarter recipes that will please even the most devout gluten-eaters among us. Come one, come all -- we're going flourless. 

Today, Shauna's letting us in on a secret the rest of the world has already discovered: sorghum is a stand-out in the world of whole grains.


The first time we cooked sorghum, my husband did a little jig. "I've been looking for a replacement for Israeli couscous. Here it is!" 

Of course, sorghum is not Israeli couscous. They don't taste the same, and Israeli couscous contains gluten. But sorghum has the same size and look of Israeli couscous, so it works as an interesting surprise in its place. 

However, sorghum doesn't need to be compared to anything else. It is its own whole-grain star. 

More: Another whole-grain star? Millet. 

Most people will look at you funny if you ask if they enjoy sorghum. Until recently, it was primarily grown as feed for livestock in the United States. However, in the rest of the world, especially in Africa, sorghum is widely used to make porridge, flour, and beer. As is true for many grains, sorghum spread through the world via the Silk Trade, and was eventually cultivated in China and India. An Indian flatbread called roti is made with sorghum flour. 

I like popping sorghum like popcorn. Get a cast-iron skillet hot, toss in some whole-grain sorghum, and watch the little balls dance and pop on the hot surface. Splash some warm milk over the hot sorghum, with a drizzle of honey, and perhaps some toasted walnut pieces. Breakfast. 

Sorghum is full of dietary fiber, which we all need. And it also makes a wonderful flour for gluten-free baking. Its nutty, slightly sweet taste and its high protein percentage has made it part of my baking mix for years. 

If you've never tried whole-grain sorghum before, I'd suggest you try it first in recipes that call for wheat berries or Israeli couscous. Once you start playing, you might not stop. 

How to Cook Sorghum

3 cups water
1 cup sorghum
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Pour the water into a large pot. Add the sorghum, olive oil, and salt. Set the pot on high heat. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Let the sorghum simmer, covered, until the it is soft and still chewy, about one hour. If, for some reason, the sorghum grains are still hard after all the water is absorbed, add another cup of water and continue cooking. 

Tags: the good life gluten-free, gluten-free, whole grains, sorghum, wheat berries, cous cous, healthy, substitutes, special diets

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Comments (7)


3 months ago Tim Zenner

Grain and sweet sorghum are different plants. Sweet sorghum is used for molasses. This article is about grain sorghum.


over 1 year ago Alyssa

Can you make sorghum in a rice cooker?


about 2 years ago susan g

My bag of sorghum grain (Hotline question a while ago) is still on the pantry shelf, apparently waiting for you to write this article! Now I can go ahead and get cooking...


about 2 years ago Leona Shemza

When my husband makes Israeli couscous he always toasts it in a little olive oil in a frying pan before adding the the water to cook, I wonder if it would work with sorghum too?


about 2 years ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

I've really only heard of sorghum molasses (same grain used, I'm assuming?)... definitely want to get my hands on some of these little gems, I love a good grain!


about 2 years ago thirschfeld

I think there are as many as 20 to 30 species but yes sorghum bicolor is used for sorghum grain and sorghum molasses. It is what my grandfather called milo and used it extensively as animal feed. It is also used for biofuel and gluten free beer.


about 2 years ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

Awesome, thanks for the info!