The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

September 19, 2012

Cheryle Finley: Molasses and sorghum similar, but not same

JOPLIN, Mo. — Zelma Zebert, of Joplin, called me recently to ask if there is a difference between molasses and sorghum. The answer? Yes, there is a difference.

Molasses is made by crushing sugar cane and extracting the juice. The juice is then boiled down into a syrup. The syrup loses some of its sweetness with each boiling, and by the third boil it’s blackstrap molasses -- the least sweet of the group. Sorghum, on the other hand, is made from the sorghum plant and is not as highly processed as molasses. The juice is extracted from the crushed stalks, and the excess water is evaporated, leaving a syrup. It is usually thinner and slightly more sour than molasses.

So, can molasses and sorghum be interchanged in recipes? That depends on who you ask. Most experts say butter is the best substitute for molasses. Others say it’s OK to use either one. But because sorghum has a lighter taste, you may need to add a little extra to get the flavor you want. Other good molasses substitutes are honey, corn or maple syrup, and brown sugar. I remember Grandpa Evans always had sorghum and biscuits for breakfast, but I was never a fan. I preferred the sweetness of grape jelly. Of course, we had those wonderful homemade biscuits my grandmother served up, so just about anything was good on them.

I’m sure you’ve seen information for the upcoming Joplin Globe 2012 Holiday Cook-Off. With five categories, plus kids that cook, you’re sure to have a favorite recipe to submit. There are also great prizes. The entry fee benefits the Salvation Army Holiday Food Drive. It should be a fun evening of presenting dishes, so remember to get your name on the list.

All recipes will be printed in the Holiday Cookbook. You can submit a recipe for publication without entering the cook-off, but I hope you decide to attend the event. Maybe you’ll be one of the winners.

Thank you to Ed Scorse for sharing Italian sausages from Scimeca’s in Kansas City. Last trip, he returned with delicious marinara sauce. Likewise, the sausages lived up to the Scimeca name. Cut up, fried and added to my spaghetti sauce, I had one of those dinners where you eat way too much, but it’s worth it.

We start today’s recipes with one from my friend in Nevada, Dorothy Baker. She has always shared her best recipes with me, and I always say that if I ever write a cookbook, she will get her own chapter. The hamburger vegetable soup is a repeat recipe, but it’s sure to hit the spot. As the weather cools down, it’s even better the second day -- that is, if you have any leftovers.

I have always loved the cookbooks that high-school students sell for Project Graduation. The cookbook from Carthage Senior High School’s class of 2001 contains one of my favorite recipes. It was submitted by Justin Barker. The banana nut cake is super moist, thanks to the addition of the crushed pineapple. I always bake it in my 10-by-7-inch pan, let it cool cool, then frost it with cream cheese frosting. I omit the pecans because that’s my personal preference.

While visiting recently with Zebert, she asked me about a good gingerbread recipe. She told me that one of her favorite desserts to serve has always been gingerbread topped with sliced bananas and drizzled with apricot sauce. Sounds yummy. One of the best gingerbread recipes I’ve found is from the Taste of Home Cookbook. It only makes a 9-inch square pan of incredible goodness, so you may want to double the recipe. Have a wonderful week and happy eating.


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