If you grew up in the south, you might have looked warily at the overtaking kudzu that swallowed up whole trees and even whole forest edges.
Perhaps your parents told you to keep your distance because “the snakes were hidden in those tendrils”. This was an urban legend, but it was enough to scare most children in the south. The lore also mentioned that kudzu grew a mile every hour and it would EAT the south!
Of course, this has not happened, and the plant has been here for nearly 200 years. Still, kudzu is an eerie thing to look at from a distance.
Fortunately, for preppers, most of this plant is edible and it can act as a resource with many applications. Kudzu as a famine plant would offer up plenty of food for those who know how to harvest it and take advantage of its many parts.
Kudzu can easily be mistaken for poison oak by the untrained eye. There are many distinct factors that set the two apart but if you don’t know what either looks like kudzu could deceive you. It’s a vining plant with lobed ‘leaves of three’.
The best sign that you are dealing with kudzu is the sheer volume of plants in the area. You see, you might run into a vining plant with leaves of three that is poison oak or ivy, however, it won’t overtake entire trees.
Kudzu dominates a landscape when you find it.
The leaves and the vines are covered in little bristles and the plant also has purple flowers to further help you ID it.
Look for a forest or waste area that is blanketed in kudzu and that sign will assure you. You should never be identifying one standalone plant by itself. If you find yourself in that situation, you are not identifying kudzu.
Related: My Famine Food Storage Menu
Kudzu is easily identified both because of its distinct features and the sheer volume. As we mentioned, kudzu is a highly invasive plant species that basically takes over everything around it. Therefore, it would be such a great famine food because of the abundance. You couldn’t keep up with eating it!
The leaves, stems, vines and starch root are all edible.
The leaves, vines, and stems can be sautéed and eaten like greens or asparagus. Eaten raw, kudzu has a strange texture because of its bristly nature. However, if you can get over that it’s fine to eat raw.
Do not eat the seeds or seed pods, as they are not safe for human consumption.
There are many ways to prepare kudzu and the starchy root is used in Asian cuisine to thicken and add texture to things.
The leaves are best chopped up in stews and soups or sautéed as a side green. You could also start a little minced garlic in some olive oil over medium heat. Sautee the garlic in the pan until it’s fragrant. Then add your torn or chopped kudzu leaves and tendrils.
When they are tender and wilted you are ready to eat them. Season with some salt and enjoy it.
Processing and using the starchy kudzu root can be a little more challenge.
The roots are massive and can be deep. Some of the larger roots have been as big as 200lbs! That’s a lot of starch.
The roots will need to be washed and peeled. They have a brilliant white pulp beneath the skin. This is most often dried and pulverized. In Asian markets you can purchase it as ‘kudzu starch’ it’s not really something you want to eat a lot of on its own.
However, in a famine that might all change.
Still, it’s great for thickening and making things like puddings and even strawberry kudzu cake.
Another interesting part of this famine food is that it has some outstanding uses around the homestead. Let’s put it this way: People aren’t the only thing that kudzu can feed.
As an animal feed, you will be able to sustain all sorts of livestock with kudzu growth. From goats to chickens, they will all chew up some kudzu.
Cows, as you would imagine, might eat all the kudzu that they can get to on your property.
If you are racking your brain about feeding animals after SHTF, you might want to investigate Kudzu on the property. Remember, this plant grows fast and is highly invasive so unless you want to only eat kudzu, you need some goats or something to keep it in check.
Kudzu was introduced to the USA in the 1800s to help with soil erosion. Because this plant grows so fast and blankets the ground, it serves as a great plant to aid in erosion control.
Apparently, it also has a proven history in this nation. If your property suffers from this, it might be worth planting some kudzu to deal with things like rain and wind damage. One thing is for sure, it will cover the land you hold dear, in a hurry.
Kudzu is a legume. That means that it is a nitrogen fixer for the soil it is buried in. While this might sound great, just remember, any soil it fixes it will have to be removed from. That is not an easy task. If you can manage a small patch that you can keep under control it might be an ally.
Be warned, if it gets out of control it could take over your growing areas.
The vines are a great resource for weaving baskets. Some people use them fresh and others split and dry them. Kudzu baskets are the perfect example of a sustainable resource.
If you find utility in basket weaving, kudzu becomes a resource that could go as far as making your money!
Starvation is one of the top concerns of preppers. When we find these great survival foods like kudzu it’s hard not to get excited!
Of course, a balanced diet is the most effective means of staying alive and healthy in the troubled times ahead. A collection of survival foods could add a layer to your long-term food storage and stave off the problem of running out of food.
Kudzu is one of the rare famine foods that also has unparalleled utility beyond just feeding people.
What has been looked at as an unstoppable invasive weed, bent on eating the south, might just be the best survival food in the forest!
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