Sorghum meal, also known as “Mabele”, competes directly with maize meal. When manufacturing sorghum meal, the pericarp (the bran portion) is first removed before it is milled so that an acceptable colour can be obtained. However, maize undergoes a conditioning process during which the pericarp is softened for the milling process and the germ portion is separated from the rest of the maize kernel. Fortunately the sorghum kernel lends itself to milling, but unfortunately a great deal of the raw product is lost in the process. Condensed tannin sorghums are not used for this purpose, because they contain a dark, bitter subcutaneous layer.
Finely milled sorghum meal is served as a breakfast porridge with milk, sugar and sometimes also butter or margarine, or as a stiff porridge together with other kinds of food.
Roughly milled sorghum meal, also known as “Ting”, is used primarily for the preparation of soft and stiff sour porridge, although it can also be served as an ordinary porridge. In order to make it sour, the porridge is allowed to ferment in a sealed container for about two to three days. The soft sour porridge is mainly served for breakfast and then sometimes served with bread, and the stiff sour porridge for lunch and/or supper. In the case of the stiff sour porridge, maize meal is often mixed in as a thickener and this also ensures that the porridge is less sour, gives it a lighter colour and/or “stretches” it. Sorghum porridge is the traditional staple food of many South Africans and the consumption thereof has increased steadily from 1988.