Saturday, July 12, 2014

Don't Hate Kudzu (well maybe) - Eating and Drinking Kudzu Does Help Ease the Pain

Students are Eager to Try Kudzu Food and Drink
High school students in Dr. Jay Bolin's group Invasive Alien Plants and Animals: Friend or Foe to the Environment? always enjoy the kudzu class. Why? Well, they get to eat and drink kudzu concoctions. 

Granted kudzu has a bad name, and it has certainly caused a lot of headaches for a lot of people. Brought in to counter soil erosion, this plant quickly became an invasive plant that would crawl over and tangle up plants, trees, and old broken down cars sitting in the field.

Fighting it back has been like trying to stick your elbow in your ear.

Given it's hard to impossible to do much about kudzu, students learn to make the best of a bad situation. The campers go out hiking and pick young kudzu leaves and then get to cooking.

One favorite is fried kudzu leaves. Students make and eat these in their focus group meetings.

The kudzu leaves are battered and deep fried. This is quite a southern tradition. Most anyone from the sunny south can tell you that anything tastes good battered and fried. This holds true for kudzu too.

What Does Fried Kudzu Taste Like?

Hum. That is a good question. When fried, kudzu tastes kind of like chips - but not really. The flavor is good. Just a little different. Not really like anything else.

If blindfolded, you'd likely NEVER guess you were eating kudzu fried. Heck, even without a blindfold, you likely would not know what you were eating. Something green and lightly battered.

Beyond Fried Kudzu

The Invasive Species group goes beyond fried kudzu. It would take forever to fry enough for a whole camp of hungry campers.

Kudzu Quiche - Oh So Yummy
For the final festival, the Bolin group does fry some kudzu, but center stage is kudzu quiche.

Some members of the Green Ink camp blogging group stopped by to see the quiche baking class, and they returned raving about how wonderful the quiche smelled. This had camper's mouths watering and students checking their watches to see when it would be festival time.

Time to See What Kudzu Quiche Tastes Like

It was finally time, and students swarmed the kudzu table to get samples. A few hesitated until they saw how fellow campers responded.

The kudzu quiche was a winner.

Again, it was hard to nail the secret ingredient. A good guess could have been mild spinach. But, no, the green leaves were kudzu. And they were truly delicious.

This year, the group also added a kudzu hot tea. Students were a bit shy on trying it, since it was a new offering. Those who gave it a try said it was interesting but good.

What will Invasive Alien Plants and Animals do with kudzu next year? I'd not wager a guess. I would bet it will be good though.

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