Read full article by Sammy Waweru @ Nation Photo Credit: Sammy Waweru
What you need to know:
- Wine made from sorghum stalks can be blended with watermelon, pineapple and grapes, and has an alcohol content of 12 per cent.
- Other ingredients used in making sorghum crackers are wheat flour, sugar, soya, cooking oil, salt, lemon, baking powder and water.
Do you know that you can make wine and juice from sorghum stalks or cakes from finger millet flour? And as dry spells become more common, why not grow the two crops that are drought-resistant and make nutritious silage from them if you are a livestock farmer to avoid reliance on maize?
The products are some of the items that were on display during a recent exhibition by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Nairobi on the usage of the two dryland crops. Sammy Waweru samples them.
Sorghum mainly thrives in dry areas, where it grows with little rains. After harvesting the grains, most farmers feed their animals the stalks or leave them to dry on the farm, regarding them as waste.
However, according to Winnie Nyonje, a food science and nutrition researcher from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), farmers can turn the stalks into wine or juice.
“Sorghum is referred to as desert sugarcane because of its adaptability in dryer and warmer climates. Sweet sorghum is a variety that accumulates high levels of sugars in the juicy stems and produces high biomass,” said Nyonje.
To make the wine, harvest the stalks as soon as the grains have been removed. The heads should be cut off when the grains are mature enough, past the milk stage. “The stalks should be cut while still green and grains are mature,” said Nyonje.
At this stage, explained Nyonje, the stalk has a high amount of juice. All the leaves are removed, stalks washed and the juice is extracted using a roller cane extractor or stalk crusher.
“The amount of juice depends on the stage of harvest as well as the agronomic yield of the plants. The juice is then fermented into sorghum wine. The sweet sorghum juice is rich in natural sugar and has high content of nitrogenous matter, which promote growth of yeast and hence fermentation,” she explained.