Sorghum comes from the sorghum plant and is not a true molasses, which is produced from sugar cane. Sorghum is a type of grass, the juice of which produces a naturally sweet syrup. Special milling equipment extracts the juice from the crushed stalks, and evaporating pans with heating units steam off the excess water, leaving the syrup. Cook’s evaporator was the primary rival of Gates & Co. and they would have looked much the same.
The Greens’ sorghum venture in 1861 was apparently of recent origin, as the 1860 agricultural census of Dayton showed no one producing sorghum or molasses. Sorghum syrup could be used to flavor baked beans or barbeque sauce, or used straight from the jug on pancakes. It could be used in any recipe calling for molasses; it has a milder taste than the true, sugar cane, molasses. There are a number of modern recipes using sorghum. If you’d like to try one of these, check out http://blueridgecountry.com/newsstand/flavors/mother-nature-in-a-jug/
- The Ottawa [Illinois] Free Trader, October 12, 1861, p.3, col. 2
- Prairie Farmer, (Old Series) Vol. 22, No. 9, (New Series) Vol. 6, No. 9, August 30, 1860, p. 175