Sorghum is related to sugar cane and to millet and is called ‘Great Millet’ in some areas of West Africa. It is an important staple food of the upland, drier parts of Africa and India where no other cereal can successfully be raised. Sorghum is able to grow in soils that are quite poorly nourished, with an unreliable water supply.
Different varieties of sorghum range in colour from white and pale yellow to deep red, purple and brown. Sorghum is the third largest crop produced in Australia. It is produced primarily in the northern growing region of Australia with an average annual production of over 2 million tonnes.
Nutrition credentials of whole grain sorghum:
- Rich in carbohydrates (mainly starch).
- Moderate protein content, but low in lysine.
- Low in fat, most of which is unsaturated.
- A good source of dietary fibre.
- High in potassium and low in sodium.
- Gluten free.
- Contains B-group vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate and pantothenic acid.
- Contains vitamin E.
- Contains iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium (depending on the soil content of selenium).
- Contains small amounts of copper, manganese and calcium.
- Contains phytochemicals including lignans, phenolic acids, phytic acid, plant sterols and saponins.
Main culinary uses of sorghum:
- Sorghum flour – in India and the West Indies, sorghum meal is used to make chapatis and similar unleavened bread.
- Sorghum grains – are more recently being used in some multi-grain products, including breakfast cereals and bars or can be boiled whole and eaten like rice. It is also used in a variety of traditional foods world-wide including breads, porridges, steamed products, boiled products, beverages and snack foods (popped sorghum).