I consider sweet sorghum a true permaculture annual plant that can and should easily fit into any permaculture homesteader’s property.
The stalks grow tall and the leaves can be stripped for feeding to your livestock. The tassels / seed heads can be thrown in daily to feed your chickens. The grains can be milled into flour for use in the human kitchen (sorghum pancakes, YUM). The stalks are pressed to extract the syrup, and the rest of the cane that is left after pressing can be used for bedding for livestock and then later made into compost. THAT IS A MULTIPE FUNCTION STACKING PLANT IF YOU ASK ME!
Typically on a homestead, making sorghum syrup is a big affair as historically cane presses have been utilized by motor or electricity or by mule or horse as shown in the photos here. A cane press is ideal, but they are rare. If you are lacking a cane press, then you can either cut up the stalks by hand (which is long and arduous), our put the stalks through a leaf shredder.
After you got the pieces smaller then put them into a cider press. Now you won’t get as much juice as you would if you used a cane press but for the homestead this will work just fine.
Boil the juice to 226 – 230F and you must skim off the non sugary “skimmings” that float to the top. Keep cooking and skimming. You will know it is ready when you lift a ladle up from the syrup and it “strings”. This is the right density for syrup.
Let cool to about 190F before pouring into small containers for storage. The best syrup is cooled immediately after storing in containers.
An acre of sweet sorghum will yield you about 400 gallons of syrup. Probably WAY more than most families would ever use in a year. As of today’s writing a half gallon can sell for over $42 dollars.
Of course anything that was grown for a long time before modern times has legend. One is that you want to make syrup on a clear and crisp fall day. A rainy day seems to make bitter syrup.
If you want to learn more about how to utilize crops into your life, especially for your homestead, and also learn about growing food, raising animals, harvesting water, building houses, and more, all sustainably, then consider taking my online permaculture design course. A $1000 course for only $25 per month. Learn more here: