Sunday, September 23, 2007

Shugah 'Lasses

We have a saying in our family: "You are just sweet as shugah 'lasses!!"

What does that mean you ask? Well, it means you are really sweet, and makes reference to sugar molasses, or most often sorghum molasses.

Sorghum molasses is a sweet dark syrup made mostly in the south and really mostly in Ky, as after my research I realized that 500 to 3000 acres of Ky farmland is dedicated to the sorghum plant.

This is my late Papaw Smith's molasses jar. This sat on the table and he loved to dip his hot biscuit or cornbread in a pool he would pour on his plate, after he had finished his meal. If these breads weren't available then he would use "lite" bread (sliced white bread).

I don't keep molasses in the jar because it is very hard to find up here in Ohio.


Historians note that throughout history, crystal sugar refined from sugar cane or sugar beets was too expensive for country folks and that it was also made and used during the Great Depression era as a substitute sweetener when sugar was rationed.

The sorghum plant was harvested and then stripped. It was then squeezed out in juice using a horse-powered press. A long pole would be attached to a horse and the horse would walk round and round in circles.

After pressing the juice, it was strained into deep flat cooking pans. A wood fire underneath heated the juice to a rolling boil, at which time family members take turns stirring and tossing the syrup with special long -handled pans. They would skim it off and it would make a thick brown syrup. This generally takes a week and is usually done the last week of September or first week of October.

My Mama remembers going to many gatherings of my Papaw's family, where this was done and the Uncles would strip a sorghum cane and whittle it like a pencil and give it to each of the children to chew the sugary sweetness.

As for me, I just remember my Papaw's love of it and an occasional molasses popcorn ball for Halloween or Christmas.


Have a "sweet" day!

Written by: Tammy @ Gentle Retreat