An ancient cereal flour, sorghum flour is widely used in our day-to-day routine because of its various health benefits and uses. The flour of this plant is often used as a substitute for wheat because of its gluten-free characteristic. A popular baking alternative and nutritious whole grain, sorghum helps improve heart health, reduces inflammation, and promotes digestion. Let’s take a detailed look at it below.
What is Sorghum Flour?
Sorghum flour, also known as jowar flour, comes from sorghum, which belongs to the grass family of Poaceae. Sorghum is a whole grain, which is ground into flour for use in various purposes such as cooking and baking. It has long been in use as a food source for animals and as a bio-available fuel in the U.S. In recent years, sorghum flour is picking up in both the store-bought variety of flours and in various flour blends, thanks to its gluten-free nature.
White or beige, this flour tastes slightly sweet and mild when compared to other natural flours – with a soft texture to it. Sorghum flour is also very rich in nutrients, as it is a good source of protein, energy, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, as per the USDA.
Due to its nutrient-dense nature, sorghum flour has some amazing health benefits to its credit.
- Gluten-Free: This flour makes for a good glutenfree substitute for wheat flour in baking and cooking. Those who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance can opt for it without being worried about their health, as per a study published in the journal Foods . It is also a good option to use sorghum in cooking as it wouldn’t cause bloating, diarrhea, or fatigue that comes as a result of consuming wheat for some people.
- Non-GMO: It is also a good option for those who want to avoid genetically modified ingredients (GMO). Sorghum seeds are grown from the hybrid seeds that combine the different types of sorghum grasses. This is a naturally occurring process used since ancient times, making it non-GMO and risk-free. (Note: It is important to avoid GMO foods as they cause allergies, digestive problems, and learning disabilities among other health risks.)
- High-fiber: Sorghum flour comes from whole grains, and the good thing about whole grains is that they retain all the dietary fiber. Therefore, we can say that this flour will help you with your digestive and heart health.
- Antioxidant-rich: This flour is rich in antioxidants such as anthocyanins and phytochemicals, which help in fighting cancer, diabetes, heart ailments, and various neurological conditions. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry , sorghum has high levels of 3-deoxyanthocyanidins, which help in changing the pH levels in the body, acting as a natural food pigment.
How to Use Sorghum Flour?
The first thing you need to do is opt for a variety of sorghum flour that is unbleached and unrefined. It can then be used for baking bread, muffins, pancakes, and more! While this flour is easily available in stores, it is fairly simple to make it at home. All you need to do is get sorghum grains and blend them at home.
- Baking: If you are making a recipe that calls for wheat flour in baking – use 1/2 cup sorghum flour for substituting it with one cup of regular flour. It will give your cookies or cakes a smoother texture and a milder taste.
- Thickener: You can also use it to thicken stews, sauces, and other savory food preparations.
Many recipe experts suggest adding around 15 to 35 percent of this flour to recipes to replace other flours. They advise against using a 100 percent sorghum in place as it does not tend to rise easily. You can combine it with other gluten-free flours or starch. For starters, try making brownies or pancakes with this flour cause they are easier to get right when compared to muffins or bread. You can also use xanthan gum or cornstarch as a binder when you are using this flour. Ideally, 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum per cup of sorghum flour should do. Also, you can use coconut oil or eggs to improve the moisture in your recipes made with sorghum flour.
This flour should be stored in a moisture-proof air-tight glass or metal container in a cool, dry place. Alternatively, you can keep it in a plastic freezer bag. Storing it in a fridge will give it longer shelf life.
Word of Caution
Sorghum is safe for consumption, however, there is certain caution which one must always undertake with any choice of grain. For some people, grains can be a cause for digestion related problems, as they all contain antinutrients. Antinutrients are compounds extracted from plants that make nutrient absorption in the body a little difficult.
It is best to have any grain, including sorghum, in lesser amounts and to keep changing your diet. Have a balance of meals with vegetables, dairy, fish, and poultry to avoid any risks.