Skip to main content

It's Sorghum MakingTime

    Since I've posted so much about the arrival of the book I think I will devote this update to something different found around our beautiful state. Do you know the difference between sorghum and molasses? There is a difference. In Kentucky we make sorghum. Different counties around the state claim to produce only the best sorghum. There is even a Sorghum Festival in West Liberty each year.
     Not nearly as many farmers make sorghum these days. And no wonder, the process requires  special equipment and the skill of a good sorghum maker. My family always claimed that the very best sorghum can only come from Menifee County, Kentucky. Others claim Morgan County has the best. Some of the best we found  over in Casey County. Oberholtzer's is outstanding.  Each year during September and October as the sorghum "cane" plant reaches the peak of sweetness it is harvested and crushed to extract the sweet juice. The juice is then boiled to the right temperature to reduce the excess water, leaving the sticky, sweet product.
   At Oberholtzer's, wood fired boilers provide the constant heat to raise the juice to the proper temperature and cool down as the liquid flows through a series of troughs. Workers constantly "skim" away impurities and foam from the prize until this reduction process yields the precious sweet product.
    Just last week Edgar Williams was making his variety of sorghum just outside of Frenchburg, Ky. It seems that the seeds of a particularly good variety of the plant are kept each year. As a result, certain sorghum makers are known for their particular variety of the tasty product.

    This difference in sorghum and molasses is the type of plant they are made from. Molasses is made from the sugar cane plant while sorghum is made from the sorghum plant. Sugar cane does not grow as far north as Kentucky but the hearty sorghum plant does very well in this region. 


  1. I love the photo of the guy stirring the steaming sorghum lava. Nice post.

  2. Weak flavor, awfully blonde to be so thick, has an odd slickness to it. Not the rich, wonderful taste of a slow tilt run of sorghum I'm accustomed to.

  3. Can't argue with personal taste JT. A person should find some to their taste at the annual Sorghum Festivals in Morgan County, KY September 26-28 and Hancock County, KY October 25-27.

  4. Been to plenty of sorghum runs in the hills. The blondness and weakness comes from a faster, bulkier run. The thickness of unadulterated sorghum only comes single ingredient juice from a slow cook pan. Their ingredients (plural) are natural, but unlisted. Pectin and other thickeners are "all natural." This isn't dark enough to have been cooked to this thickness. It'll be ok for hot tea and lemon this winter. Thanks

  5. Good information. Thanks. I do want to be candid about the photograph depicting the very light, blonde appearance of the two jars of Oberholtzer's. The jars were placed just so the sunlight hit them from directly behind, which really gave them an extreme brightness. In fact, it was that lighting effect on this date, I suppose prompted me to jot this little blog post. I assure you JT, I have had some great sorghum from the mountains and try to find some each year. I appreciate your insights on the subject.

  6. I grew up around MT Sterling , my favorite sorghum is a light golden color as I remember as having a mild flavor . I am now 81 yrs. old and would still like to buy some of my favorite sorghum


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Flint Types of Eastern Kentucky

For those folks interested in archaeology and/or geology you no doubt have considered the flint (called chert by geologists) that all those arrowheads you've seen or in your collection are made from.  The colors, textures and behavior of the amazing substance various greatly and for many years, in fact up until the early 70's only the major identified primitive quarries type of flint were recognized in archaeological research. Little effort or attention was paid toward the raw material of those beautiful and finely crafted tools. Geologist performed little better simply noting in their field work that some beds of lime stones contained chert though sometimes the chert was described in detail.
    That all changed in the early 70's as the result of pioneering work on flint classification for sources found in the eastern part of Kentucky. This undertaking was done by Larry Meadows, Garland Dever and Ed Henson. Yes, yours truly was fortunate enough to know these two very …

The High Rock Petroglyph

What do you think the strange symbols carved on this sandstone boulder represent? The High Rock Carving is certainly one of the most mysterious antiquity found in the Red River Gorge country.  We did a previous post  about this strange rock in August, 2012. Discovered underneath a small rock shelter near the High Rock fire tower, the carvings were discovered on one loose boulder in the shelter. In the late 70's the boulder was removed from the rock shelter by the Red River Museum and Historical Society placed at the museum in Clay City, Kentucky. It was felt that vandals and artifact collectors would soon end up destroying the unusual carved stone. In fact some of the surface appears to have been chipped away, perhaps portions already removed by vandals.    The carvings have many varied, curved shapes including concentric circles and shapes that may represent animals. Additionally, there are numerous holes and other features. Some of the rock has been lost likely by the weathering …

Broke Leg Falls

For sure one old landmark in eastern Menifee County Kentucky is Broke Leg Falls. The Falls has been a tourist stop along US Hwy 460 since the 1940's and before. It was a place for picnics and adventures into the rough rocky terrain the likes of the Red River Gorge. It's location on once a major highway along with the pristine beauty of the box canyon that the stream formed no doubt contributed to the popularity of the Falls.
    The Falls is about 80 feet in height but much of the year has a small water flow. But over eons of time the Falls and stream have carved out a magnificent canyon retreating nearly to the crest of the ridge.
    Located in Menifee County Kentucky, Broke Leg Falls has been a popular tourist spot for travelers of the US Highway which is located only a few yards from the falls. A popular landmark since the 1940's, the Falls was privately owned. Visitors could pay a dime and get to hike the short distance down into the box canyon to view the Falls…