A Southerner's Revenge on Unloveable Kudzu
|The scourge of kudzu|
The Internet's awash in recipes for steamed kudzu leaves and powdered kudzu root starch, yet most folks who live where the Japanese vine's transformed once-recognizable landscapes into undulating humps of green would no sooner cook up a mess of kudzu than take their tea unsweetened.
Kudzu's considered -- at best -- a goat snack in the Southeastern United States, where the plant was introduced in the 1930s as a means of erosion control. Barbara Hyman, a Dallas resident who grew up in the central Mississippi town of Lexington, never met anyone who'd sampled it.
But the idea of "kudzu jelly" lodged in her brain a few years back, and she mentioned the concept to her sister Gina. Gina's hairdresser had a recipe, so the women began collecting kudzu blossoms, a chiggery task complicated by the purple blossoms' tendency to clump behind the vine's broad leaves.
|Blossom: not the TV show.|
"It turns an ugly, yucky gray, and then you let it sit overnight so it can infuse," Hyman explains.