Botanical name: Sorghum bicolour
Although it was domesticated in Ethiopia and Sudan, the origins of sorghum are believed to be found in Egypt, 8.000 years ago. Then it spread through commercial routes to India and it was not until the 19th century that it was brought to America. The sorghum genus entails up to 30 different species and is known under a variety of names, depending on the geographical area where is found (milo, guinea corn, kafir corn, dura, mtama, jowar kaoliang…).
This gluten-free, whole grain is currently mostly grown in dry lands, given its capacity to survive in extreme heat and desert climates. These properties make sorghum a basic food source in Africa, although it is also popular in Southern Asia and Latin America. However, nowadays the largest producer of this crop is the United States, where sorghum is not primarily used as food but mainly for livestock feed and in several ethanol plants.
Sorghum’s hull is eatable (unlike other types of grains), something that prevents it from losing the majority of its nutrients. Its properties make it ideal not only for people suffering from celiac disease; this crop is also believed to help people with irritable bowel syndrome and to help lower the risk of serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes, given the high amount of antioxidants it entails.
Last but not least, sorghum is a very versatile grain which can be used in many different preparations, around which one can conform a gluten-free diet. Bakery is perhaps one of its most common applications (whether cookies, breads, muffins or cakes) but it can be also used to prepare homemade pasta, pizza or noodles, to be added to a fresh salad after boiling the grains, or to brew beer and other alcoholic beverages. Surprisingly enough… you can also pop it and make pop(not-corn)sorghum!
- Whole Grains Council: “Sorghum June Grain of the Month“. Accessed Nov. 2014.
- The Huffington Post: “What Is Sorghum? And Why Is The South So Obsessed With It?” Accessed Nov. 2014.
Image: Wikimedia Commons