Sorghum’s Savor Shows Ingredient's History, Possibilities
Long cherished in the South, sorghum has recently been rediscovered by progressive chefs across the nation.
It is prized for its distinct umami taste that can enhance and deepen the flavors of both sweet and savory dishes. Released this March, Sorghum’s Savor showcases the history and endless culinary possibilities of this unique ingredient.
A seasoned writer, speaker, and founder of the Southern Foodways Alliance, author Ronni Lundy is widely considered one of the few experts on southern Appalachian foods.
"The foodways of the Appalachian South are indicative not only of the human race's earliest experiences in North America, through its still existing Native American influences, but they also tell the story of settling the frontier and of the industrialization of the country," Lundy says. "The region's elevation, topography, and climate have dictated that farming be kept relatively small and sustainable, so there is much to be learned from the living traditions of the region."
An ancient old world grass that resembles corn, sorghum is cultivated and used as a grain in most of the world. Yet the cane varieties were cultivated, processed, and used as syrup only in North America, particularly in the South.
Sorghum has been a key ingredient in Southern baked goods, confections, glazes, and dressings since before the Civil War. "In a world of rapid loss of rural food staples, Sorghum's Savor implores us to pay attention," says Hugh Acheson, author of A New Turn in the South.
Though essential to the region, sorghum's complex flavors and deep heritage have often gone unsung.
"Lundy gives sorghum its long delayed due in this smart and lyrical book," says John T. Edge, coeditor of The Larder. Alongside favorite hill country recipes like Kentucky Cakes and Gravy Horse, the book features innovative modern recipes such as Chef Dustin Staggers's Monkey Wrench Skillet Fried Chicken and Chef John Fleer's Long Sweetening Sorbet.
Lundy weaves rich stories and descriptions from her Kentucky childhood throughout the book, as well as her many years invested in the mountain foodways community.