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Jan 18, 2007 12:17 AM

Culinary Kudzu – who knew?

Looking for something else, I discovered that kudzu is edible ... every part of it.

Also it is supposed to be good for a hangover or settling an upset stomach.

I had a chayote go wild in my backyard this year, so I have certain empathy for taking revenge by eating as much of an aggressive plant as possible.

Kudzu is low in fat and supposedly has lots of nutrients, but I didn’t see what those were exactly ... well, the root is a good source of iron with a little calcium and phosphorus.

This link says that it can be used like lettuce ...

“It has a normal leafy green flavor and could easily be used as a salad item ... no after-taste, no bitterness, your basic lettuce substitute”

The deep-fried leaves are supposed to be like potato chips.

Someone said that cooked it tastes like collard or Swiss chard and a tea made from it tastes like potliquor ... the water vegetables are boiled in.

There’s a warning that kudzu looks like poison ivy ... so make sure what is being consumed is in fact kudzu.

A powder is made from the roots is supposed to be better than cornstarch because kudzu powder gives a smooth texture without a starchy taste

There’s even a cookbook called Kudzu Cuisine.

The link to the table of contents tells how to select and harvest in order to make dishes like:

Chicken Soup with Kudzu Sprouts, Kudzu Flower Fritters, Crystallized Kudzu Blossoms, Kudzu Blossom Spread, Kudzu Blossom Ice Cream, Kudzu Blossom Syrup, Kudzu Blossom Vinegar, Curried Carrots with Kudzu Blossoms

... yeah, I'm bored with squash blossoms, bring on the kudzu.

There are also recipes for wine, cake, pie, cookies, bread, salad, noodles, relish, mochi, beverages, meat loaf, chili ... and much, much more.

The leaves are supposed to be good for stuffing like grape leaves.

This link to an annual Kudzu festival has food like ...
BBQ Kudzu Sandwich
Hot Kudzu Dog
Baked Kudzu Leaftips
Iced Kudzu Tea

It also says how to prepare kudzu stems ... a little beer in the water will give the stems extra tartness ... also a glass of beer pairs well with kudzu.

This link doesn’t seem thrilled about the taste of kudzu but mentions it at the very least saved people from famine in Japan

In addition to the culinary uses it mentions a study about alcoholism where hamsters that preferred booze to water (and don’t many of us) were given kudzu and cut their alcohol consumption in half ... and ...

“The study also noted that the kudzu root extract also resulted in reduced effects of hangovers, as well as improving the motor skills of the drunk hamsters.”

Motor skills? Hamsters can drive in the South?

A few on-line uses of kudzu

Pretty picture of kudzu blossom jelly
Kudzu quiche
stuffed kudzu leaves, kudzu fried chicken
Pork tenderloin with kudzu salsa

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  1. rworange, Never, ever let the Kudzu get near your Chia pet.

    1. Well, I've seen some abandoned overgrown farms in the South that this news might be able to revive! Don't whine about that stuff that ate the barn - eat *IT*! Can it, freeze it, boil it, bake it, fry it...

      "Improving motor skills of drunk hamsters"? Heck, might even work on Vanderbilt students, then!

      1. Kudzu is a national tragedy. A year ago I was flying down to New Orleans from D.C. We flew pretty low over the states in between, and you could see this dense green carpet everywhere. It looked like all the native vegetation was being swallowed by this scourge, and I understnad that it's still moving north. There's nothing funny about this plant.

        3 Replies
        1. re: pikawicca

          If it goes much farther north, that'll be further confirmation of global warming; it flourishes in Tennessee south of the Highland Rim, but AFAIK hasn't moved into Kentucky much - at least not since I was back there. In its native Japan it stays pretty much where it's planted, so far anyway...

          1. re: Will Owen

            Hell, Will, it's in southern Indiana! I live in south-central Indiana, and I'm not happy about this!

          2. re: pikawicca

            However, it makes you wonder why it isn't used. Some of the stuff I read said that it can even be made into ethanol to fuel cars. There seem to be LOTS of medicinal uses but I didn't include those links because of the site focus on food.

            Seems like a waste of a free resource.

            In Central American they had a problem with lizards (garrobo) and people started eating them ... they were so good that ... no more lizards ... in fact they are endangered and currently ranched.

            Seems like if a real market could be developed for kudzu, it might solve the plant pest problem.

            I ask you ... why NOT McKudzu ... kudzu chips with that burger?

            Grilled chicken on a kudzu salad and kudzu iced tea?

            I guess I should actually try the stuff before getting on a soap box.

          3. It really is a great thickening starch. AKA arrowroot. For my tooth, it's a bit mucilaginous as a green, but interesting. Your idea of rolled kudzu dolmades sounds cool. Native to Japan: Google for "kuzu" without the "d" for lots of traditional Japanese applications and supply sources.

            As a roadside invasive weed in the Southeast, it grows FAST.

            2 Replies
            1. re: FoodFuser

              IMO, I'm pretty sure that arrowroot and kudzu aren't the same thing. The root may have the same uses, but you can clearly define arrowroot as a separate plant.

              It was brought to the south to control erosion... it worked.

              1. re: HaagenDazs

                True. Arrowroot and kudzu are and aren't, be or not be, the same thing. Several species supply starch and have the overlapping common names of arrowroot. In macrobiotic (ie Japanese peasant food) lingo, arrowroot is kudzu. In other uses, three other species are used in the trade.

                These wiki links sorta straighten it out, for those interested.

            2. I have a bottle of kudzu jelly in my kitchen. It's quite possibly one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

              It's supposed to be a gift for someone (I traded a lb of my homemade candied ginger to a friend in Georgia for it), but I may soon give in and try it myself. Or, I may just set it on a shelf where the light can shine through it and admire it.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Jacquilynne

                Kudzu flowers are beautiful and delightfully scented, smelling very much like wistaria - and there's a small company over in Sierra Madre, home of the world's biggest wistaria vine, that makes wistaria jelly. It uses an apple base and wistaria flower extract, and it's very pretty and tastes and smells divine. I'd imagine that your kudzu jelly is made much the same way.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  The links above to jelly recipes just use the blossoms and no apple base. Just based on that picture that sure is a pretty jelly as Jacquilynne said.