Kudzu is a fascinating thing- non-native, totally invasive, often destructive and just beautiful to behold.
I heard recently that Kudzu is totally edible and has some fairly well-substantiated medicinal uses. I tried kudzu pesto a few weeks back and while it isn’t necessarily something I’ll go out of my way to eat again, it certainly piqued my interest. This weekend I picked some young and tender kudzu leaves in a spot I’m fairly certain isn’t sprayed with pesticides or weed killers (fingers crossed). I searched for kudzu recipes and uses online and found this very simple one and modified it thusly:
- 1 cup fresh kudzu leaves
- 3 sprig fresh mint
- fresh lemon
Strain and serve with honey and lemon to taste. Simmer 1 cup of finely chopped mint kudzu leaves in a quart of water for 30 minutes.
The result was interesting- totally local tea (minus the lemon, including the honey). It was like a muskier green tea, but pretty tasty with lemon and honey. It could be totally psychosomatic, but it made me feel a little sleepy and foggy-headed. The medicinal uses for kudzu are well documented on everyone’s favorite font of internet information and include: anti-inflammation, cancer prevention, treatment for allergies, headaches, diarrhea,vertigo, hypertension, diabetes type II, hangovers and alcoholism. That’s right- the root is “was used to prevent excessive consumption [of alcohol], while the flower was supposed to detoxify the liver and alleviate the symptoms afterwards.” Supposedly something in kudzu curbs alcohol cravings and makes drinking alcohol less pleasant. When I first read this, I felt my heart drop as my plans for a sake kudzu cocktail with ginger and lemon vanished before my eyes. The article doesn’t say what effect the leaves have, however. I’m going to do a little experimenting. Wish me luck.