Backcountry Sweetnin' -- Making Sorghum MolassesIn Southern Appalachia, sweetnin' refers to sugar in its various forms, including white sugar, brown sugar, honey, and sorghum syrup. For almost a century following the introduction of sugar sorghum to the United States in 1857, sweet sorghum -- popularly known in the region as "sorghum molasses" -- was the sweetnin' of choice.
by Jay Henderson
by Jay Henderson
Although cane sugar and molasses were widely available in Colonial times, these were store-bought items, and relatively expensive compared to current prices. Backcountry settlers had a strong preference for making their own anything and everything, and so for decades sweetnin' meant honey, maple syrup, and maple sugar. Sugar-sorghum culture was eagerly adopted and in nearly every community there was at least one farm engaged in its production.
National Sweet Sorghum Producers
Georgia: Blairsville Sorghum Festival
Kentucky: Sweet Sorghum -- The Old Fashioned Way
Tennessee: Tipton-Haynes Sorghum and Scutching Festival
Virginia: Whitetop Mountain Sorghum Molasses Festival
West Virginia: Morgan County Sorghum Festival
Appalachian Stack Cake
I am an ex-urbanite who escaped the city life and has lived for the past 28 years in a rural, mountainous area of Virginia that in colonial and early-American times was part of the "Backcountry." This is the true melting pot of the U.S.A., its culture and traditions dominated by "born fighting" Scotch-Irish immigrants and enhanced by German, Highland Scot, Dutch, Welsh, and yeoman English settlers. Having absorbed and inculcated the history, values and views of the Backcountry, I would like to share insights, information, and viewpoints from the place where America began. - - Jay Henderson