Nature's Restaurant:

Fields, Forests & Wetlands Foods of Eastern North America

A Complete Wild Food Guide

Contents Page »



Search Nature's Restaurant & Wild Foods Home Garden Websites:


Season: Store Bought or Winter Harvest


Urban, Rural or Both: To harvest: Rural mainly, otherwise Asian food stores


Kudzu (Pueraria lobata), is also called Kuzu in macrobiotic literature, and also called Japanese Arrowroot. There seems to be a little confusion over exactly which Pueraria is Kudzu, or if more than one, so if you are interested, follow this Pueraria link. It's academic to me, as I can't harvest it myself - it doesn't grow where I live, so I buy it in health food stores in the macrobiotic section as a powder. I include it here because it is such a good thickener in foods with no flavor of its own, and gives strength and energy without nervousness.

Native to Japan and used as a food starch. The starch is called Kuzuko or "Got Fan". The plant is an invasive vine above ground and can be a giant root below the ground. Now growing wild in the South Eastern USA. It was brought to North America by the rail companies during the heyday of the steam trains in the 1800's to plant along new rail lines that were on the sides of slopes or on built up land that was in danger of washing away during floods or very heavy rain. They chose this plant because it grows so fast it boggles the mind. The root is ground or mashed in water and the water is filtered off and the starch left over is used as a thickener in sauces and soups. It doesn't add a cloudiness to the food like some other starch thickeners.

If you do harvest it yourself, be aware that not all the roots are good for harvesting. Since the only experience I have with it is buying it and using it, as it doesn't grow where I live, you will have to do local research if it is in your area. Keep in mind, the roots are woody like tree roots, so you can't just go dig a root, chop it up like a carrot and cook and eat - you have to process it for the starch.

Kudzu is known for numerous health benefits, but mainly as an overall body strengthener and conditioner and for stomach problems.

This plant is legendary for its incredible rate of growth. In the sandy loam of the Southern USA, it can grow three feet per day. I have read that the root can be over 10 feet long and a foot in diameter.

For such a wild plant, the taste is so mild. Use as a substitute for corn starch or any other thickener. It comes in a package of white powder. Add a little (1 tsp to start) to a little room temperature water, mix well, and gently add and stir into simmering liquid.

Traditionally in Japan it is used with Umeboshi paste and ginger to help with stomach upsets. Basically, you simmer fresh ginger slices for an hour or so, filter out the ginger, ad a little Umeboshi paste, and mix in the Kudzu (mix a teaspoon of Kudzu with 2 or 3 tablespoons of water before adding) to the simmering mix and stir until thickened. Sip until gone. I've done it, and it works great - better than just ginger, which works pretty well too.

See the recipes section for a Sauce made with Kudzu that is great on many foods, especially stir-fry's.

There is the Tamari or Soy sauce, lemon and Kudzu sauce as well as Miso, lemon and Kudzu sauce.

One more thing that Kudzu is great for is making spaghetti sauce thick with. It works better than anything else in my opinion. You can make the sauce still thin enough that it flows, but with the Kudzu in it, it sticks to the pasta. See the section on pasta sauces for the recipe.


Growing this plant in your home garden:

If you live where it grows, you could grow it, but if it gets out of control, don't blame me. The seeds are not always viable, and from seed is when you get the best roots, so find some of the seed pods in the fall where you live, and plant them. Expect most will not germinate. Make sure it is not near woods (will kill trees by cutting off their light) or something you don't want covered in green in about, oh, two days! If you don't live where the soil is sand or very soft loam, don't bother, as it won't be worth the effort to harvest the roots. Just to be clear - I'm not recommending you grow this plant, as it can easily get way out of control very fast.


Description:


Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) range. Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.


kuzusm

An example of a package of Kudzu powder. In macrobiotics it is called Kuzu, in North America the plant is referred to as Kudzu - same thing. Notice how it is labeled as a wild food.





Search Nature's Restaurant & Wild Foods Home Garden Websites:


Search using Google:



Important Notes when Identifying
Rules & Cautions
Dangerous Plants to Avoid Touching
Disclaimer


Why does this site have ads?

Originally the content in this site was a book that was sold through Amazon worldwide. However, I wanted the information to available to everyone free of charge, so I made this website. The ads on the site help cover the cost of maintaining the site and keeping it available.





Website Information:

This website was designed and written by me in HTML using the Bluefish 2.2.7 editor on Mint 18 Cinnamon Linux. I used the Bootstrap frontend framework, style sheets & Javascript.

This site is hosted by HostUpon. I am very thankful to them for all the patient technical support I received when I first set up my websites and had no idea what I was doing. I am happy to recommend them.

HostUpon Web Hosting

The site is designed to work with all browsers and is specifically designed to be highly functional on smartphones. I kept the site simple, with a clean page design to make using on a smartphone easy, quick & efficient. The Bootstrap framework is responsive, and automatically scales to any screen size.

If you encounter any problem using this site on any device, I would appreciate knowing. Let me know by using the contact page. Tell me what the problem is, and what device you are using it on.