How to Grow and Process Home Grown Sorghum Grain

Sorghum is gluten-free and an interesting alternative to the typical home-grown grain choice of corn (maize). It is an efficient use of space as it grows close together, and it tastes good. Here is how to grow and process home-grown sorghum for grain.


  1. 1
    Start the seeds in a rectangular flower pot and transplant the seedlings to your garden so you will have consistent spacing. Growing the sorghum is the easy part. When the seed heads are developing spray them with an organic insecticide.
  2. 2
    As the seed heads turn from green to rusty red, they reach maturity and begin drying. At this point daily test them by pinching a grain between the edge of thumbnail and finger. When the grain is hard and dry you cannot break the grain with your thumbnail, and you should harvest the seed heads lest they begin dropping the grain. Cut the seed heads with garden scissors and lay them out on a table in a protected area not in the dark. A screen porch is ideal. Let them completely dry.
  3. 3
    Using a large container about sixteen inches across remove the grain from the seed heads by rolling them hard and vigorously between your palms over the container. Rub them hard to remove all the grain you can. Imagine you are rolling a candle between your palms with the candle perpendicular to your arms. This is the rolling action used to separate the grain from the seed heads. A small percentage of the grain will stick to the seed head, so just accept the small loss.
  4. 4
    Winnow the grain. Now, your collected sorghum grain will have lots of dust and debris from the blooms and hulls and a small percentage of the grain will still be in the hull. Either on a mildly windy day or using an electric fan drop handfuls of the grain held high about three feet or more into a large container letting the breeze carry away the dust and empty hulls (chaff). You should do this over a large plastic sheet on the ground to prevent waste in case you miscalculate the effect of the wind. It is so pleasing to see the breeze carry away the dust and chaff! You might repeat this process a time or two again. Now you will notice that your remaining problem is to either separate the grain that still has the hull attached or to remove the hulls from that grain. It is not so easy to remove the hulls from that small part of the grain that is not naked, so let's assume you choose the former solution.
  5. 5
    Final process: To separate out the grain that still has the hull attached use a soil sieve with an appropriate mesh for the sorghum variety and size grain you have. For example, a 3 mm (approx. 1/8 in.) mesh works for Dale Sorghum. Soil sieves are available at bonsai hobbyists websites. They are typically 12 inch (30.5 cm) diameter screens. This works well with a properly sized screen mesh though not with 100% effectiveness. You will find that the remaining grain with the hull still attached floats to the surface as you rinse the grain before cooking. Oh, and you cook it similar to brown rice, or you may grind it for a gluten-free flour.

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Categories: Planting and Growing