This has been a busy week here at Old Loon Farm. Asparagus is in full growth mode, although the heavy rains we’ve had this month, coupled with the saturated soil, have made harvesting a bit of an extra chore. We’re still working on a remodel of our summer screen porch where we gather as family during the warm months. We’ve got some lovely salad greens, herbs, and strawberries coming to maturity in the hoop houses, along with seedlings of tomatoes, peppers, okra, onions and cucumbers. Although potatoes, radishes and garlic and doing fairly well in the garden outside, and peas, beets and carrots are beginning to push through, most beds are empty – too wet to work, too chilly to plant. Every season is a challenge; patience with Mother Nature the necessary virtue of the farmer. Meanwhile, our chicks are growing, layers are producing fine eggs, and we took our first batch of pastured broilers to the butcher this week; they’re safely in the freezer waiting for sales. IN STORE FOR YOU THIS WEEK: Fresh asparagus, free range eggs, frozen pastured broilers, sorghum and maple syrups, and fresh bakery items (Friday only).
But today we want to talk a bit about our sweet sorghum. Have you tried our Indiana Natural* pure cane sorghum syrup yet? It’s a local sugar, like honey and maple syrup. It’s pressed from the cane of the sorghum plant, evaporated at a ratio of about 7:1, and bottled. We plant the variety Honey Drip in early June, tend it for about 100 days with hand weeding and cultivation – no pesticides. Sorghum is drought-tolerant and will grow in marginal soils, so is quite a flexible crop.
Come harvest time, the cane is cut at ground level, the seed head at the top is chopped off (can be used as feed for the animals), and the cane is put through a chopper/press. The juice is boiled in an evaporater and turns into a beautiful amber syrup.
So what’s so great about sorghum? It can be grown in small plots – one-quarter to one acres is a manageable plot. Small farmers can work cooperatively to share planting, tending, harvest and transport to the processing facility; or a small press and evaporator can be set up on a small farm. It’s a great local product to sell at farmers markets, add to gift baskets, and use at home in cooking and baking.
And best of all, unlike white sugar, sorghum has high nutritional value. One tablespoon of sorghum provides 32 mg. calcium, 21 mg. magnesium, 210 mg. potassium (about the same as half a banana), and 12 mg phosphorus. In addition, sorghum contains iron, zinc, and B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and B-6. (USDA National Nutrient Database Report 2017). Check the nutritional label on sugar: empty calories!
What about flavor? Sorghum speaks of the earth – grains, sweetness, fruit. It pairs well with apples, pears, peaches, raisins and dates. It enhances oats, barley and other whole grains. It brings a richness to pumpkin, sweet potatoes and winter squash. You can dream of it with vanilla and caramel on ice cream, popcorn, and other snacks. Anything made with buttermilk tastes even better sweetened with sorghum. Barbeque sauce, salad dressing, iced coffee, even your favorite cocktail – experiment with this versatile ingredient!
Cheers to a better diet and a more healthy YOU!
DID YOU KNOW? Do you sweeten your yogurt with honey or jam? Try a spoonful of sorghum! It pairs so well with plain yogurt. Add a piece of banana or a few blueberries and you’ve got a breakfast or snack that is delicious AND nutritious!
*Indiana Natural Pure Cane Sorghum is produced by a cooperative of local small farms. Look for each farm’s name on the label. Indiana Natural also produces value-added sorghum products such as caramel corn, cakes, cookies and barbeque sauce.