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What Variety of Sorghum for Syrup?  RSS feed

 
Tim Clauson
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Location: Oklahoma
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A lot of Sorghum is grown in our area - all grain sorghum. I have been interested in growing Sorghum for syrup / molasses as well as feed for our animals. What variety would be good for this purpose? We have about 1 acre we can devote to this project.
Thanks,
Tim
 
Dan Boone
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Tim, do you have a line on access to a real sorghum press? The only working one left in my county is sitting on the lawn at a museum.

Conventional wisdom is that no kitchen-scale tech is practical for getting the cane juice out. A few people have burned up food processors and done very-small-scale boiling down on their stove tops, but that doesn't sound like fun to me.

I'm planning on planting a few plants this spring just so I can see how they grow, but the pressing difficult has me balked when it comes to growing any volume.
 
Tim Clauson
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Thanks Mike - That's what I am looking for!
 
Tim Clauson
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Dan Boone wrote:Tim, do you have a line on access to a real sorghum press? The only working one left in my county is sitting on the lawn at a museum.

Conventional wisdom is that no kitchen-scale tech is practical for getting the cane juice out. A few people have burned up food processors and done very-small-scale boiling down on their stove tops, but that doesn't sound like fun to me.

I'm planning on planting a few plants this spring just so I can see how they grow, but the pressing difficult has me balked when it comes to growing any volume.

Hi Don,

No, I wouldn't think one could successfully press sorghum or cane without a proper press. I have seen a couple for sale in Arkansas. Not so much concerned with pressing right at this time as much as I am getting it started. Pressing Sorghum is something that I can figure out later on That will come together as I am ready for it. So will the boiling it down. If I get pressing working, boiling it down will basically be done outdoors over a fire as it has traditionally been done.

Thanks,

Tim
 
Joe Braxton
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Just some bits of info in case you haven't seen them...

The National Sweet Sorghum Producers & Processors Association provides information and services to sweet sorghum producers and syrup makers across the U.S.
http://nssppa.org/


Sweet Sorghum Revival: How to Grow Your Own Natural Sweetener
http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/sweet-sorghum-zm0z13fmzkon.aspx

 
Tim Clauson
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Joe Braxton wrote:Just some bits of info in case you haven't seen them...

The National Sweet Sorghum Producers & Processors Association provides information and services to sweet sorghum producers and syrup makers across the U.S.
http://nssppa.org/


Sweet Sorghum Revival: How to Grow Your Own Natural Sweetener
http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/sweet-sorghum-zm0z13fmzkon.aspx


Thanks for posting these Joe. I had seen the first one but lost the link. I appreciate it

Tim
 
Dan Boone
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Tim Clauson wrote:If I get pressing working, boiling it down will basically be done outdoors over a fire as it has traditionally been done.


My impression is that's the only way to go. Any of the boiled-down sugars (possibly excepting maple) will prove to have uneconomic fuel costs if you boil them down with anything except your own firewood. Or that's what the gist of my research has indicated, anyway.

I'm much better at researching things until I find out why they are too much bother than I am at actually trying stuff and making it work. That's a bad habit I'm trying to fix. Please do keep us posted if you have success with sorghum!

I have bought several varieties of sweet sorghum seed via eBay, but all in tiny quantities and in no case based on any strong recommendation that the variety is appropriate. So I'll plant some experimental plants and see what develops.
 
Brett Andrzejewski
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I was working with the USDA to try and re-establish sweet sorghum for food and fuel a couple years ago. We did work with some new sweet sorghum varieties: M-81E, Dale, and Topper. The work we did was in slightly wetter more humid climates than you Louisiana, Florida, and Tennessee. Yet, they were all pretty drought resistant during the 2012 summer drought. M-81E was the best for sugar content and vitality.

You can do home scale sugar extraction "diffusion extraction" like this guy with sugarcane did for this site:
Cane syrup without the press

For proper storage as a rule of thumb we would like to get to 70 or 80 Brix. To test without a Brix meter put your thumb and forefinger touching making a circle into the syrup (careful as it is hot) and pull them out once covered. Expand your thumb and forefinger apart, one above the other. If the bridge/strand of syrup breaks before 3/4" inch then it not concentrated enough for long term storage. If it is 70 Brix you should have a nice stalagmite/stalactite formation between the two fingers.
 
Brett Andrzejewski
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Oh! You can also build a rocket stove or J-tube to get some really efficient heat under you pot. I plan to try this when I get my hands on some maple tree sap, now that I've relocated to the NE.
 
Tim Clauson
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Brett Andrzejewski wrote:I was working with the USDA to try and re-establish sweet sorghum for food and fuel a couple years ago. We did work with some new sweet sorghum varieties: M-81E, Dale, and Topper. The work we did was in slightly wetter more humid climates than you Louisiana, Florida, and Tennessee. Yet, they were all pretty drought resistant during the 2012 summer drought. M-81E was the best for sugar content and vitality.

You can do home scale sugar extraction "diffusion extraction" like this guy with sugarcane did for this site:
Cane syrup without the press

For proper storage as a rule of thumb we would like to get to 70 or 80 Brix. To test without a Brix meter put your thumb and forefinger touching making a circle into the syrup (careful as it is hot) and pull them out once covered. Expand your thumb and forefinger apart, one above the other. If the bridge/strand of syrup breaks before 3/4" inch then it not concentrated enough for long term storage. If it is 70 Brix you should have a nice stalagmite/stalactite formation between the two fingers.


Thanks Brett - this is really good information. Gives me some ideas for a machine I was thinking on how to build for some other purposes. I can modify my plans for Sorghum also. Not too hard.
The varieties of Sorghum you mention here - is the seed available for Dale or Topper? Anything with a name like M-81E immediately makes me think of the varities of GMO corn I have seen growing here and there. It is not appealing to think that they may be messing with GMO Sorghum. Is the M-81E GMO? (I would be surprised if it is..)

Thanks

 
Dan Boone
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I don't know how current this NSSPPA.org webpage is, but they list a phone number and email for a provider of Dale, Topper 76-6, M81E, and Sugar Drip seeds.
 
Dan Boone
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And USDA information sheet 1309 says M 81E was developed by good old-fashioned crossbreeding in 1967, from earlier named cultivars. So it sounds pretty GMO free to me.

 
Mike Haych
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You could also try sugar beets Bountiful Gardens has non-GMO seed. The actual sugar production is a bit lengthy and involved but producing a syrup is easy peasy. Just grind the beets with a meat grinder and boil and then boil and then boil some more. The liquid is dark brown and sweet. It has an "earthy" taste tho but not overly so but then again, everyone's taste is different.
 
Tim Clauson
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Mike Haych wrote:


You could also try sugar beets Bountiful Gardens has non-GMO seed. The actual sugar production is a bit lengthy and involved but producing a syrup is easy peasy. Just grind the beets with a meat grinder and boil and then boil and then boil some more. The liquid is dark brown and sweet. It has an "earthy" taste tho but not overly so but then again, everyone's taste is different.

Thanks Mike - I had looked for non- gmo beet seed but couldn't find any. I will definitely look that up
Thanks!
 
Brett Andrzejewski
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The sorghum varieties I listed were not genetically modified. I would obtain my seed for my study from the sugarcane agriculture research services (ARS) branch. I was a drive to their site for me when I was in Louisiana. They also grew it for me so I could do my sugar analysis. Sadly the two individuals I would phone are gone. They must have moved on to different jobs, because there phone numbers and gone and they are not listed in the ARS phone directory. When my contact ended a lot of people were given the 'golden handshake' to get them to retire to prevent budget cuts.

You might have to do a little more leg work to get the sorghum seed source I used. Try:
The ARS sugarcane research leader
Michael.Grisham@ars.usda.gov
(985) 853-3172

If you do find a source please let us know. Thanks!

 
Tim Clauson
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Brett Andrzejewski wrote:The sorghum varieties I listed were not genetically modified. I would obtain my seed for my study from the sugarcane agriculture research services (ARS) branch. I was a drive to their site for me when I was in Louisiana. They also grew it for me so I could do my sugar analysis. Sadly the two individuals I would phone are gone. They must have moved on to different jobs, because there phone numbers and gone and they are not listed in the ARS phone directory. When my contact ended a lot of people were given the 'golden handshake' to get them to retire to prevent budget cuts.

You might have to do a little more leg work to get the sorghum seed source I used. Try:
The ARS sugarcane research leader
Michael.Grisham@ars.usda.gov
(985) 853-3172

If you do find a source please let us know. Thanks!



Thanks Brett - I appreciate the information. Like I said, I would have been surprised if it was GMO. But still had to ask. I will give that phone number a call

Thanks again!
 
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