GATLINBURG, TN – Great Smoky Mountains National Park is officially ready for fall with the addition of sweet, syrupy sorghum — an authentic Smoky Mountains treat traditionally served on hot biscuits, pancakes, porridges and grits.
A molasses-like sweetener and cooking ingredient, this locally sourced sorghum is made the old-fashioned way, using mule-powered cane mills and a wood-fired boiler to deliver a delicious taste of Southern heritage.
Muddy Pond Sorghum’s fall harvest is now available online and in all 11 of the park’s visitor center stores through a partnership with Great Smoky Mountains Association, with a portion of proceeds funding important work throughout the park.
For three generations, the Guenther family in Monterey, Tennessee, has crafted this molasses-like treat out of love for both taste and tradition. Determined to keep this rich piece of mountain history alive, the Guenthers use a centuries-old practice to extract sweet syrup from sorghum cane.
Sherry and her husband Mark Guenther have taken the family’s life work on the road. The couple demonstrates their chosen art form at the old cane mill near Cades Cove Visitor Center. Never failing to attract a crowd of onlookers, the Guenthers then sell their product on-site in the park and at Great Smoky Mountains Association-operated visitor center stores, as well as at various fairs, theme parks and festivals across the region.
At each demonstration site, the Guenthers bring a horse or mule, a cane mill, a wood-fired boiler and a day’s worth of sorghum cane grown by the family. As the animal walks around the mill, the sorghum is squeezed of its liquid — and the syrup is then boiled in a pan over the fire.
While the sorghum is cooking, the Guenthers chat about their setup and offer a taste of the finished product.
Sorghum molasses is available in quart- and pint-size jars for $12.99 and $9.99, respectively — and Aunt Becky’s Barbecue Sauce, made from sorghum and spiced with a hint of chipotle pepper, is also available for $9.99 in park visitor center stores and at the official park online store, www.smokiesinformation.org.
Proceeds from all merchandise purchased at official park stores, operated by Great Smoky Mountains Association, help fund important park projects like trail maintenance, environmental education and historic demonstrations.
For additional recipes or to learn more about Muddy Pond Sorghum and the Guenther family, visit www.muddypondsorghum.com. This fall, the Guenthers plan to sell their sorghum, honey and barbecue products at Dollywood, Friday through Monday and on Wednesdays, through the end of October.