Birds & Baileys Sorghum

We have partnered with the Bailey family to bring 100% pure Birds & Baileys Sorghum to the small towns in south Arkansas that already enjoy Birds & Bees Honey. This product is bottled in our small manufacturing and processing facility in Rison, AR and will be available seasonally as the harvest permits. We are currently working with the Baileys to bring more of this old time favorite to our customers in the coming years.

Sorghum syrup is the boiled-down juice of the sweet sorghum cane. Sometimes called sorghum molasses, sorghum syrup is actually much sweeter than molasses, which is a byproduct of refining sugarcane or beets into dry sugar. When asked what sorghum tastes like, master syrup cook Robert Bailey says, “Sorghum tastes like sorghum.” It is a distinct flavor that southerners have enjoyed with biscuits, pancakes, and other baked goods for generations. As we say, “If you have never tried pure sorghum, here’s your chance.”

Sorghum was first cultivated over 3,000 years ago in Africa. The crop did not make it over the Atlantic until the colonial era and was not grown commercially in the United States until the 1850s. The price of cane sugar spiked when domestic production was halted during the Civil War. Dry sugar became too expensive for many small farmers in Arkansas and the rest of the southeastern US, so they turned to the versatile sorghum cane which provided whole grain sorghum flour for bread, forage for livestock, and, of course, sweet sorghum syrup.

Sorghum production peaked in the 1880s. In the late 1800s, Alexander Hawkins Jordan attached his sorghum mill to a pair of wagons and pulled it to nearby farms where sorghum was being harvested. In exchange for a cut of the syrup, he and his mule extracted and cooked off the pure juice. He made part of his living selling his surplus sorghum syrup in town until the 1930s. Jordan’s great-grandson, Trent Bird, says that he remembers going with his grandpa to buy two gallons of sorghum every year until the mid-70s when their supplier started to cut sorghum with cheaper corn syrup. The early 1970s was the low point for sorghum syrup production, and it is also when high-fructose corn syrup started to be mass produced. As a result, many people have never got to try the distinct flavor of pure sorghum. If you have never tried it, we recommend that you pick up a bottle today. We also encourage our customers to research the many benefits attributed to pure sorghum syrup.

Robert and Wyndell Bailey are third generation sorghum growers and syrup cookers from south Arkansas. They learnt from their father, Ellis, who learnt from his father,  Jim. Today, they still hand cut the sorghum cane that Robert Bailey and Bill Miller grow, press the cane with an old mill, and cook the juice down into a delicious syrup on a hand-built wood-fired pan. The Baileys’ are often joined by their friends and family, who are eager to learn as much as they can from their family tradition. The Bird family is happy to continue our own family’s tradition by sharing this 100% pure sorghum with our customers.

Added by Justin Bird