January 16, 2009

A warm biscuit covered in sweet sorghum syrup can hit the spot for many Kentuckians on a chilly, winter morning. However, as people across the state are reaching for their syrup bottles this winter, they are finding some of the syrup has crystallized into sugar. Those unfamiliar with sweet sorghum syrup crystallization may think the syrup has gone bad, but the product is still good, said Morris Bitzer, a sorghum breeder with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

Sweet sorghum syrup is made from sweet sorghum cane. It is also referred as sorghum molasses; however, molasses is a product of sugarcane.

Different types of sugar are found in sweet sorghum syrup. Crystallization occurs when there is more sucrose present in the syrup than other simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose. It typically occurs in syrup that has been stored for some time. A similar crystallization process also occurs in honey.

Dissolving sucrose can eliminate crystallization. To dissolve the sugar, remove the cap and heat the syrup bottle in the microwave. Consumers may want to put the syrup in another container to prevent it from boiling over into the microwave. Once the syrup is heated, shake it, and the sugar should dissolve. To eliminate crystallization in multiple syrup bottles, pour the contents from all the bottles into a pan and heat on the stove.             "Once the sucrose dissolves, the syrup should be just as good as when they purchased it," said Bitzer, who is also the executive secretary of the National Sweet Sorghum Association.

Crystallization may recur. If so, there is no limit to how many times consumers may reheat the syrup and it should last for at least a couple of years.