Monday, December 5, 2011

Kudzu The vine that ate the South!

You see it everywhere down here. It grows anywhere and at a rate that is unbelievable. We spray it we mow it we plow it under and yet it still keeps making gains. Its called a number of names from mile a minute vine, foot a night vine, the vine that ate the south, and it's even been called the miracle vine. 1876 at the centennial exposition in Philadelphia is one of the first recorded dates of Kudzu being introduced as a ornamental plant. Then in the twenties farmer found that animals would eat so it was sold by mail order as a forage plant for animals.In the thirties the Soil Conservation Service pushed Kudzu as a soil erosion control. Even paying farmer up to eight dollars an acre to plant it. The Civilian Conservation Corps planted it in many of their projects. Channing Cope called it "The miracle vine" and promoted it in the Atlanta Journal for soil erosion control. The U.S. government decided to stop supporting kudzu in 1953 and it took them until 1972 to call it a weed.
The plant can really grow as much as a foot day in the right conditions. Some herbicides will actually make it grow better most have little to no effect. The U.S. Forest Service recommends repeated herbicide treatment saying t take up to four years to completely kill it.
Now the plant itself has been used for food, for building, as a medicinal plant, and as an ornamental plant for centuries in Asia. Its bright green leaves and beautiful purple blossoms make it a pleasant looking plant.

Very Pretty and the blossoms have a scent of almost that of ripe grapes. Most people don't ever see the blossoms because they tend to be hidden by the large leaves. the stories of the vine swallowing houses are true.

It's said that the vine can even stop an Abraham's M1 Tank. Having tried to get through this stuff I would not doubt it. Back to the food aspect tough.
The wife makes this wonderful Kudzu Blossom Jelly. It comes out a light golden color and has a taste that is somewhere between grape and plum. She will take the same blend and not add the pectin and makes a delightful Kudzu syrup. The large leaves can be treated like any other green. Cook of some bacon ans onion then add the big kudzu leaves and cover with chicken stock and simmer just as if they were collards ot mustard greens. The large leaves can be blanched and then stuffed with chopped lamb or goat or whatever. and served as you would stuffed grape leaves. Now the new little sprouts and leaves can be used raw in salads but they need to be very young. If you can find the root and if you can muscle it out of the ground. I say that because the root can be huge up in the hundreds of pounds. It can be dried and then ground and used as starch to thicken soups and sauces and as a breading for fried foods.
 As far back as 100 AD the Chinese have used kudzu to treat a number of aliments from headache and migraines to agina. To even speed the progression of measles in children. As a demucalent to soothe mucous membranes. It can lower blood pressure and help with hypertension. Not bad for a weed that everyone hates.
 Its been used to make bales to help insulate houses. The vines being very strong and flexible are used to weave baskets and mats.
So I say The vine that ate the South should be the vine the south eats. I will try and post some photos of the jelly later

No comments:

Post a Comment