Monday, August 15, 2011

The Vine that Ate the South

When you remove the risk, you remove the challenge. When you remove the challenge, you wither on the vine.
~Alex Lowe

After I got off work last Saturday, I went to check the backyard garden for plants in dire condition but I saw something a lot worse than wilted plants, the kudzu behind our fence was starting to devour the trees planted alongside it. I immediately ran to the carport, grabbed the pruners and gloves, changed shoes and started cutting the vines. After a couple hours of battle, I finally freed the trees from being ingurgitated by this voracious plant. The vines were vicious; I inherited scratches that felt like hundreds of tiny cats had clawed me but it's worth the plight.

While I was cutting the vines, I thought of ways of how to get rid of them or at least prevent them from climbing over our fence and all I could think was, could I eat them? lol. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate everything about kudzu – when they flower, my backyard smells heavenly – I am lulled by its intoxicating fragrance. It's actually the only time when I look forward to seeing it thrive – to watch kudzu flower. So for curiosity's sake, I looked up recipes for kudzu and to my disbelief, kudzu is safe for consumption and I am so excited to share these recipes I found online:


Kudzu Quiche
Makes 4-6 servings.

1 cup heavy cream
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped, young, tender Kudzu leaves and stems
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground pepper to taste
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 nine-inch unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cream, eggs, kudzu, salt, pepper, and cheese. Place in pie shell. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until center is set.

Rolled Kudzu Leaves

Kudzu Leaves 1 can diced tomatoes 2 teaspoons salt 3 cloves garlic, cut in half Juice of 3 lemons
Bacon Grease (optional)

Stuffing ingredients: 1 cup rice, rinsed in water 1 pound ground lamb or lean beef 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon of allspice Salt and Pepper to taste

Gather about 30 medium-sized young kudzu leaves. Make sure area has not been sprayed with chemicals to kill the Kudzu.

Wash leaves. Drop into salted boiling water. Boil a 2-3 minutes, separating leaves. Remove to a plate to cool. Remove heavy center stems from the leaves by using a knife and cutting down each side of the stem to about the middle of the leaf. Combine all stuffing ingredients and mix well.

Push cut sides together and fill with 1 teaspoon stuffing and roll in the shape of a cigar. Place something in bottom of a large pan so that rolled leaves will not sit directly on the bottom of the pan. Bacon grease is great for seasoning.

Arrange Kudzu rolls alternately in opposite directions. When all are in the pot, pour in a can diced tomatoes, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 3 cloves of garlic, cut in half. Press down with an inverted dish and add water to reach dish. Cover pot and cook on medium for 30 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook 10 minutes more.

Deep Fried Kudzu Leaves

Pick light green leaves, 2-inch size.

Thin batter made with iced water and flour

Heat oil. Rinse and dry kudzu leaves, then dip in batter (chilled). Fry oil quickly on both sides until brown. Drain on paper toweling. Eat while warm.

You can find all these recipes at And for those who enjoy being inebriated once in a while, kudzu flower is great for hangover and alcoholism. If you want learn more about kudzu, check out the video below. Happy eating and hopefully you learned something today about the mighty kudzu.

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