Deep in the hills of Tennessee, midway between Nashville and Knoxville lies a little community called Muddy Pond. During September and October, you can smell the aroma of fresh made sorghum syrup being made by the Guenther family. Stop by the Muddy Pond Sorghum Mill and watch step by step as sorghum syrup is being made. You can taste the syrup while it is still warm and purchase some to take home with you. You can watch the horses walk around the cane mill as the juice is being squeezed out of the sorghum cane. You may hear the train whistle blow as the wood fired, steam locomotive boiler makes the steam that boils the juice down to syrup.
After making sorghum syrup since the mid 1960's with others in the community, John and Emma Guenther started the family operation in the early 1980's. Three of their sons; Mark and wife Sherry, Pete and wife Doreen, and Eddie and wife Ruth also run the mill. Several of the grandchildren can be seen filling containers and labeling jars.
As the years have passed and the demand for sorghum has increased, we have gone from cutting the cane by hand, with a machete, to harvesting with a machine. We now have a cane cutting machine that is self-propelled. It deheads the cane, cuts it off at the ground, then chops the stalks into short pieces and blows the leaves out. Then the pieces of cane are dropped into a press that squeezes out the juice and pumps it into a tank that is pulled behind the machine. The tank of juice is taken to the sorghum mill and pumped into a holding tank. It is preheated overnight, and early the next morning we start boiling it. The juice is cooked in a 22 x 8 foot evaporator pan. It is heated by steam produced by a wood fired, steam locomotive boiler. The finished product is then cooled and bottled, ready to pour on some hot biscuits.