Often I lament that many of the frequently talked about wild edibles do not grow in Middle Tennessee or grow in puny amounts. One example is when foragers wax on poetically about cattails and their many uses. We have a few in our area but even if I just harvest a couple it would deplete the sporadic population too much. Imagine my surprise when we traveled to Michigan last summer and we passed fields of cattails. I finally understood the fascination with this particular wild edible! One of the wild edibles I am happy to enjoy here in the South that is not common in the North is the Kudzu plant. As any southerner knows it is a wildly prolific plant. It has become one of my favorites.
When it was blooming last summer I used the flower (that smells like grape cool-aid) to make Kudzu Jelly. It won an award at our county fair. At that time I also picked many of the leaves and dehydrated them for future use. The leaves are particularly good for dehydrating. They crumble well and stay a bright green. Because Kudzu is in the legume family the flavor reminds you of green beans. It is actually very mild, even more so than spinach. I often add a handful of dried Kudzu to spaghetti sauce, soup or beans. It is a great way to give a little color and nutrients to your dishes with out changing the flavor. You can even add it to your bread! Here is one of my favorite recipes. It tastes like an artisan whole wheat bread. Contrary to what you might imagine, it does not turn out green. This recipe also uses dried ground Curly Dock seeds. It is a common plant in this area and at the end of summer you can easily forage pounds of it!
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
1 large egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 c sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 c white flour
1/4 c dehydrated and finely crushed Kudzu
1/4 c ground dried Curly Dock seeds
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 additional egg white for coating dough
In a medium bowl, mix the Kudzu, Dock seeds and flour. Premixing these ingredients before adding to the bread machine insures an even distribution.
|Ground Dock Seed and Kudzu|
When the cycle is complete, briefly turn your oven on just to warm and then turn off. Remove dough from machine and divide into three sections. Roll out each section into a long strand. Braid the three strands tucking the ends under. Put plastic wrap loosely over loaf and place in slightly warmed oven. Allow to rise for 25-30 minutes.
|Kudzu loaf before final rising|
Remove from warmed oven. Preheat oven to 340 degrees. Paint loaf with egg white. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes. If the top gets to desired color before the 30 minutes is finished, place aluminum foil lightly over loaf and continue to bake.
|Finished Kudzu Bread with Elderberry Jelly|
Note: If you are in need of a grinder for grinding small amounts, this is the grinder I use. It is cheap and grinds to a fine state. I purchased mine at Tuesday Morning for $15.