Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sweet Sorghum: Another Sweet and Healthy Discovery

Whenever I go to bazaars and trade fairs, I usually have food on my mind, but not just any kind of food, it has to be under the category of healthy and delicious enough for my kids.  And whenever I'm caught shopping for such, I always ask and it never failed to catch my attention, whether it is diabetic-friendly.

At the last Big Bite! The Northern Food Festival in Pampanga, I got to talk to the hard-working couple who were also noted as Sweet Sorghum Couple - Antonio and Doris Arcangel, owners of BAPAMIN Inc., Batac City.  I was, as always, on a look out for a pasalubong fit for my diabetic daughter, and in my last stall stop I saw a low glycemic liquid sweetener.  It was from Healtika, but what I came home with are bags of sorghum grains and flour.

These, according to the couple are great substitute to rice and high-carbo and sugar loaded grains. Much of the sorghum grown around the world is for fodder, or animal feeding.  That would be why we are not accustomed with it.  A lot goes into the production of ethanol, which is used to raise octane levels in petrol. 

Although sweet sorghum is being intensively promoted as an excellent source of biofuel, its use for fuel production needs bigger investments both in hectarage of sweet sorghum plantation that needs to be established and in the required distilleries that will process them into ethanol. While the realization of extensive biofuel production is yet to be realized, farmers, including the Arcangels must make the most out of the acreage of sweet sorghum they have planted. Happily, aside from fuel, sweet sorghum is also an important source of food, feed, and fertilizer. That's why it is appropriately dubbed as the "F4 crop".

According to Mr. Arcangel, sweet sorghum is a multi-purpose smart crop grown simultaneously for the production of grains for human food and animal feed. The juicy stalks are somewhat like sugarcane. The juice is used for making vinegar, syrup, wine and different grades of alcohol.  The bagasse and the green leaves are fed to animals, or they can be used for making organic fertilizer and paper. The grains are rich in protein while the juice is rich in potassium, iron and calcium.

Due to the nonexistence of local distilleries for sweet sorghum to produce the ethanol, MMSU has supported activities for developing other products from sweet sorghum. This is complemented by R and D initiatives from other institutions such as the Pampanga Agricultural Colleges (PAC), Isabela State University (ISU), and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The Bureau of Agricultural Research has been providing financial support to the project of the Arcangels.

How Sweet Sorghum consumed?

When it is eaten the hull is usually left on so that all the nutrients are present. It is the third most important cereal grown in the States, although it is not generally eaten there, but made into syrup or put into animal feed. It was taken to the US sometime in the early 17th century and was cultivated in the southern state by slaves. It is used to make industrial adhesives, in wallboard, and in paper-making.  It is also used for biodegradable packing material. In other countries where it is allowed to grow tall the stalks are used in weaving and the red pigment from the plant is used to dye leather. The dried stalks can be used for fuel for cooking so it is very useful. Sorghum dye has been patented in hair dying products.

The Arcangels have dispensed fresh sweet sorghum juice which is a refreshing drink. They are very proud of their outcome - the sweet sorghum sugar ,which was made through spray-drying. Normally, the sweet sorghum juice will not form granules when cooked, unlike sugarcane juice.

The couple started processing sweet sorghum flour to make cookies and pandesal and producing other products including vinegar, syrup and, recently, sweet sorghum juice. They also started joining several product exhibits and trade fairs including the DA-BAR's 2009 National Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition, an annual affair held at the SM Megamall. It was here that Dr. Nicomedes P. Eleazar, director of BAR saw how BAPAMIN packaged their products.

Currently, BAPAMIN products include food items, flour and feed processed from the sweet sorghum grains, and vinegar and syrup processed from the stalks' juice. Most of the sweet sorghum-based food products are processed in its warehouse in Batac, the bulk of which is vinegar. But unlike traditional vinegar processing, BAPAMIN has developed a faster way of processing the juice into vinegar with an acetator technology that also assures that the product can pass rigid quality control with technical assistance from the DOST and MMSU. The sweet sorghum vinegar that Engr. Arcangel produces is sold at a price competitive with other sugarcane-based vinegar.

Mrs. Arcangel was kind enough to have me try their polvoron which was made from the sorghum flour.  This also can be a better substitute to processed white flour which is widely used in commercial baked products.  A way better alternative for my baking, because of the health attributes.

As for the Sorghum grains, I prepared it like black rice, where in you have to soak overnight before slow cooking.

At first glance, look in my photo above, you won't really see a big difference from rice, not if you look closely and try it.

You can cook and eat it as a rice, or dress it up like I did and make it like mushroom risotto.  But you need to pre-cook it accordingly. 

To make mushroom risotto, you can use this recipe at my old post, kindly click here.

Why eat Sorghum?

Sorghum is a drought resistant cereal crop as the leaf blade and sheaths are covered with a heavy white waxy substance which seals in moisture, protecting the plant from water loss. It was therefore found to be useful in drought-ridden countries in the developing world.  In Africa there is the Africa Biofortified Sorghum project which was set up to help reduce the deaths attributed to malnutrition, which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) constitutes a “silent emergency” killing millions of people a year and depleting the long-term economy of still-developing countries. The sorghum is being enhanced with vitamin A, the amino acid lysine, along with the minerals iron and zinc.

Sorghum naturally contains three of the B-complex vitamins, B1, B2 and B3 and all 8 essential amino acids as well as 10 more including lysine, but it does not contain vitamin A and only small amounts (relatively) of iron and zinc.  It also is rich in phosphorous and potassium and also contains calcium and sodium. It is high in fibre and has both Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids present. It has potent antioxidant properties and is gluten free which makes it a good alternative grain for those with gluten allergies.

Gluten-free Sorghum Pancakes
Recipe came from this website

This gluten-free pancake recipe is very versatile. If you're on a dairy-free diet, you can leave out the milk, without substituting anything in its place – just adjust the water to provide the desired thickness of batter.


2 cups sorghum flour 
3 teaspoons baking powder 
1 teaspoon sugar 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup non-fat dry powered milk (or powdered buttermilk)
1 tablespoon corn oil or other cooking oil
3 eggs 
1 1/2 cups water


1. Combine dry ingredients. Stir in eggs, oil and water; mix well.

2. Drop by spoonfuls onto a hot, 375°F griddle and cook until golden brown, turning once.

Note: If you like thinner pancakes, add more water or add some applesauce.

To Order or now more info about these products, below are their contact details

BAPAMIN Enterprises

Batac City, Ilocos Norte
Contact Numbers:  09164663071


  1. Whenever I am attending bazaars, I am always looking forward on buying clothes but if that will be a food bazaar, I will always buy butong pakwan and kalabasa!

  2. Really, sorghum and wheat are healthy food that we could look into for our daily consumption. Likewise, it'll be necessary for children's health too.

  3. It is nice to know that the owner indeed share their knowledge with you about their product. Sometimes in a bazaar, maybe because of the busiest day of their selling, they forget to mingle with their customers as long they will get their quota its fine with them.

  4. I wonder if this would do wonder for weight loss, too!

  5. Sorghum has a lot of nutrients and it can also be substitutes for common staples. It's nice that they are pushing this product further.

  6. I've never had a risotto but yours looks yummy. I've never heard of this product before. Good to know plus it's healthy too!

  7. I love pancakes, but I havent tried .But I haven't tried Gluten-free Sorghum Pancakes yet. I'll be looking for this kind of lour in our locality.

  8. Never heard of Sorghum before. Will absolutely look for it in stores. I just hope that the taste of it can pass the taste buds of my kiddos.

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