OCTOBER 26, 1988
Sorghum Mill on the Backroads
By ELEANOR MARTIN
This is a perfect fall day classified as Indian Summer, with enough chill in the air to make you stop lively. It will soon pass, so get out and enjoy.
Sometimes we get the urge to leave behind the expressways, the toll roads and travel some of the back roads of Kentucky which hold much of the state's history and country living. The trees are beginning to show color, the dogwood leading the parade, already bright red. We miss the wild flowers blooming with the sweet scents of Summer. The golden rod has taken over. I have always had trouble accepting the golden rod as our state flower. These tours into the back roads of Kentucky are full of surprises.
What's cooking? Soon I will have my answer. We have discovered a group making sorghum molasses.
A mule walks in a circle, turning the mill that presses the sugar cane and extracts the juice. The juice travels down a pipe into a broad pan for cooking. When the juice starts bubbling it forms a green film on top which is skimmed off and poured into a hole in the ground dug for this purpose. The impurities are a part of the stalk.
It takes about ten gallons of juice to make one gallon of molasses. In case they run short of cane, they pause for a moment to cut and haul in more. The mule seems to know his job isn't finished. Given a command he is ready and willing to go on. I wonder who coined the phrase "As stubborn as a mule?"
I know there must be a sorghum cookbook out there somewhere, using sorghum in every recipe. My favorite would be gingerbread.
My daughter, with whom I live, has a collection of cookbooks and she may have one. She now collects tapes.
At this time of year, I always wonder if I got my summer work done. Did I get the garden produce in? Did I wash the storm windows; did I dig the amaryllis bulbs? Sometimes Fall comes too early.
As we were leaving, the farmer said he didn't earn much money making sorghum but he added with a grin, but enough to buy the bread to go with it. I plan to put my sorghum on hot cornbread and hot biscuits tonight.