Thursday, February 21, 2008

Can I Help?

At one time in this region, molasses was widely used and preferred as the sweetener of choice. This beautiful thick syrup rich in nutrients was made locally from Sorghum Cane, an annual crop. The process was very extensive, demanded highly skilled knowledge and equipment, and required a community or large family in its production. Molasses making was just one more factor which permitted country folks to be independent and self sufficient.

Unfortunately, molasses making as a craft has almost fallen by the wayside. The use of white sugar has become more widespread due in part because of current societal preference, our extremely busy times, greater availability of cash, and dependence on industrialized agriculture.

In the Crawford family, we made a decision in 2003 to bring back this craft in the vintage way of the boys' parents John and Ethel Crawford who have since passed on. This was and is a big deal and a big commitment. Made for family use, the stuff is yummy and nothing like that "old store bought stuff" as the boys' Mother Ethel would say. In August and through September, we will be preoccupied determining that precise moment when the Sorghum Cane is ready and making our annual batches.

We live in a time when many traditional crafts with long histories in our families and our society are being lost. We also live in a time when families have lost considerable self sufficiency. We also live in a time when many people are reclaiming skills. People are saying this is important and considering "How can I help?" That is exciting.

At this season, we have molasses to use, although the number of big empty jars is increasing. Here, Melanie is making Molasses Cookies with what could be described as a little help from Max, the Cat.

What traditions in your family do you wish to reclaim? Or what traditions have you reclaimed?

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