Kudzu Jelly

This is one of those regional recipes – if you live in the south-eastern USA, you know exactly what kudzu is. If you don’t…. well, it’s this big invasive green vine that grows everywhere down here!

Where I’m at, in Virginia, the plant is just starting to flower and will do so until September. We are ‘blessed’ with a large amount of kudzu on parts of the trail going down to our creek. When the flowers are at their peak, a most heavenly smell fills the air… it’s very much like grape, with a subtle floral note.

Last year, my brother used some of the flowers to make jelly. Everyone in my family kept telling me, “Oh, that’s the best jelly ever!” Unfortunately, the jars all got handed out before I could taste for myself.

Well, finally, this year, I was able to make and taste kudzu jelly and I’ve got to say, it IS delicious! I think that it tastes very much like a mild grape jelly.

There’s a standard recipe floating around the internet that I used, sorta. I had low-sugar pectin on hand and felt that 5 cups was an awful lot of sugar, so reduced it to 3 cups. (Don’t try that with regular pectin.) It had a bit of a soft set, but still firm enough to call jelly. I’m happy with it! Make sure your kudzu is from an unsprayed area – in spite of their ineffectiveness, our local Department of Transportation is quite fond of spraying chemicals all over anything green on our roadsides.

 

Kudzu Jelly

  • 4 cups of kudzu blossoms (flower only)
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 package of powdered pectin (I used low-sugar pectin)
  • 5 cups of sugar (I used 3 cups WITH low-sugar pectin)

Pour the boiling water over the kudzu flowers, cover, and let steep in your refrigerator for around 6 to 8 hours. Strain and discard the flowers, reserving the “juice” for jelly-making. Make according to your pectin’s directions for cooked jelly. (If in doubt, follow the recipe they have for grape juice, just adding the lemon juice to it, and you shouldn’t go wrong.) Process in a water bath canner for 5 minutes. (I did for 8 minutes, because I read that recommended time on one site and I’m OCD enough to do that, just in case.)

My half-wild, outdoor kitty, Rascal, often loves to hop in the shot while I’m trying to take photos for my posts. Today, was no exception! And since I think he’s the prettiest kitty ever and since I hate to create a post with just one picture, I just have to post this photograph of him. :)

 

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44 Responses to Kudzu Jelly

  1. PootiesMom says:

    Too cute I love that Rascal is photo bombing lol.
    I love your recipes and I am a faithful follower of your FB page.
    Keep doing what you do it’s a beautiful thing.
    Thank you for it all. ♥♥♥♥♥

  2. KimH says:

    Rascal is adorable! And what a brilliant way to use that invasive kudzu. I’ve never heard of anyone using it to make jelly. I think thats just awesome!

    • Jan says:

      Thanks! Rascal lives up to his name quite well, but I love him dearly! :) I like the idea of turning a nuisance plant into something useful too; I’ve also read of people using the leaves to make paper – it’s on my want-to-try-soon list.

  3. Pat says:

    Kudzu jelly sounds pretty good. Rascal is a cute little camera hog!

  4. Nancy says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of kudzu — if I did, I wouldn’t know it from Adam. But it makes a very pretty jelly and I would like to try it sometime. Rascal is a cutie. :)

  5. We are in Virginia too, and we have LOADS of kudzu on our property. I think I’ll have to try your recipe!

  6. Kat says:

    What a great way to get rid of an invasive plant! The jelly looks lovely, and Rascal is adorable. :)

  7. JOY says:

    What does it taste like? I would have been afraid it was a poison plant, so thank your family for trying it out. Have you ever tried corn cob or thistle jelly? I guess as long as you boil, add sugar and pectin you can make jelly out of anything? Rascal is a cutie and find it sweet he wants to be a “ham.” enJOYed your photos. Hungry now.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Joy! I think it tastes a lot like grape jelly – just with a slight floral hint. It’s my favorite, so far, of the flower based jellies I’ve made. It tastes a bit more traditional… I have not tried corn cob or thistle jelly – they sound interesting; I’ll have to look those up!!

  8. Your ‘kitty’ is gorgeous as is your jars of jelly. I’m in TN so very familiar with Kudzu. I have never really paid much attention to when it blossoms but after reading your post, I certainly will. I think this would be a great recipe to make and give for Christmas gifts :)
    We have a weekly recipe linky and I would love for you to share this if you would like. This week’s ‘Made From Scratch’ Monday is at: http://allergiesandceliac.com/?p=258

    • Jan says:

      Thank you! I hope you can find some flowers and try it! :)
      I’ll go check out your linky party now – thanks for inviting me!

  9. This is a great idea! I have heard what an invasive predator this vine can be so I am happy to see someone taking advantage of it and doing something both useful and tasty! Well done! :)

  10. Vonna Pauls says:

    I love the smell of kudzu flowers. You can’t go anywhere here in west TN with seeing it creeping around. I remember an article in Mother Earth News from years back about kudzu compost. Huge tomato plants! If you ever run across anything about purple hull jelly – yes, jelly made from the pea hulls – don’t do it! My mom thought it sounded interesting and tried making it. One word – nasty!

    • Jan says:

      I love the smell too! :) Jelly from pea hulls…. that is definitely a new one on me! I tasted some made from wisteria flowers before; I can’t say I liked that much either. Kinda felt like I had sprayed my mouth with perfume and it tasted that way for hours lol.

  11. Erin says:

    I have not made jelly before, but am very familiar with the invasive Kudzu. Just wondering though, how do you use the flowers? I am assuming they are boiled with the water. Are they then strained out or blender or food processor smooth in the liquid?.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Erin! I missed putting that in the recipe! Thanks for letting me know; I’ll go fix that. You want to pour the boiling water over the kudzu flowers, cover and let them infuse for a few hours (most people do for 6-8 hours or overnight), then strain out & discard the flowers. So, you’re left with just the “juice” to use.

  12. Erin says:

    Thank you so much for the reply. My daughter lives in Amelia Court House, VA so I am going to ask her if she has Kudzu around her way and tell her about the recipe. I live in South Florida and unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it….. Kudzu doesn’t go that far south.

  13. Perry says:

    I love Kudzu jelly! A Southern Season in Chapel Hill used to have a beautiful gift crate with a jar of that and one of Honeysuckle jelly. Best gift I ever got. Have you tried making jelly from Honeysuckle?

    PS Rascal is quite the handsome boy!

    • Jan says:

      Hi Perry, I’ve tasted honeysuckle jelly (yum!), but haven’t tried making it yet. I shall have to do that this year!

      Thank you for your kind words about Rascal. He’s my little wild buddy and brings a lot of joy into our lives. :)

  14. Pingback: Homemade Violet Jelly The Nerdy Farm Wife

  15. Jess Wright says:

    I have just discovered your blog, and have been reading for the last couple of hours… It is a font of the exact knowledge I have been looking for! I have recently begun a journey in jam/jelly making, and canning– in prep for my first garden to be wildly successful (I hope, lol) and I am quite passionate about natural healing with herbs and salves, so I am just devouring those posts as well. Thank you so much for all of your work on this blog. I wanted to comment to add, Kudzu is like wild salad as well–the leaves are delicious. I live in southern California, so no kudzu for us, but a lot of my family is in Alabama, and my aunt uses it as free lettuce!
    Rascal is quite a handsome kitty. I had a Rascal growing up; I have never heard of anyone else naming their cat that, it’s so neat to see you have a Rascal as well (did you get the name from the book?)

    • Jan says:

      Hi Jess, I’m so glad you found some useful stuff here! :) I’ve not had the kudzu leaves, but I will definitely try them this summer! Free lettuce is always good! :)

      Rascal was named by my niece – she and my daughter found him at my mom’s house. They live in the country and people always drop off animals at the top of their driveway. Rascal’s mom was a stray as well, but he got chased by a pack of dogs up a tree & had a badly damaged leg we wanted to fix up. They rescued him, he escaped from an elaborate box setup they had him in, then a few days later, they caught him again! So they named him Rascal Houdini because it suited his little nature. :)

  16. tommy says:

    By flower do you mean the petals only or the whole tip the petals are on? Thanks!

    • Jan says:

      Hi Tommy! You will want to pull the individual flowers off of each stem or sprig. Since they don’t bloom evenly along the stem, I will use some of the buds if they have purple showing but end up tossing the completely green tips on the end. (The goats love them though!) So, in the picture above – that one sprig I have shown in front of the jar of jelly – you’d pull off each flower and a couple of the buds about to unfurl, but that whole green tip, you’d not use. So, you’ll need to gather plenty of sprigs! Which isn’t always easy since the blooms tend to be so high up. But worth it! :)

  17. Diana says:

    Ooo honeysuckle jelly!!! Honeysuckle is my favorite flower – I would love to hear if you get to experiment with it!

    • Jan says:

      Honeysuckle is one of my favorites as well! I have a few experiments (hopefully) planned for it this year, that I never got around to trying last year.

  18. Brooke says:

    I am trying to.find a recipe for thistle jelly does anyone have one that they want to share? I just made a few batches of Korean Kousa Dogwood cherry jelly and it taste so amazing. We wanted to use the thistle that is growing every where so if anyone has a recipe I would be so grateful!!!

  19. Brooke says:

    I have not experimented with Kudzu but I will definitely try it if I can find some blooms. When do they normally bloom?

    • Jan says:

      Hi Brooke, Here in Virginia they start blooming in July and peak in August & are probably about gone now. I haven’t checked for a few weeks though, there may still be a few stragglers out there!

  20. Liz says:

    Our rabbits (and chickens) adore kudzu leaves and vines–it’s their favorite treat. We may be the only folks in the south that appreciate having it in their yard :-)

    • Jan says:

      Hi Liz, I didn’t think about feeding it to our chickens & rabbits – I’ll have to try that out this year. We sure have enough to experiment with around here! :)

  21. Jay says:

    Our property is plum full of kudzu here in TN. The flowers seem to bloom around the time the kids go back to school in August. For such a hideously invasive vine it produces the most wonderful smelling blossoms in fall that rival the honeysuckle of early summer. The first time I smelled them I thought someone was chewing grape bubblegum near me! It is almost a sweet candy grape scent that you can taste in the air if you are brave enough to wade through the chest deep sea of green. I always wondered what I could use them for. I pondered experimenting with a wine recipe but now I know what to do! Thanks a bunch!

    • Jan says:

      Hi Jay, I love that description – it does smell a lot like grape bubblegum! I love the scent too. I love your idea of a wine recipe; that’s something I hadn’t thought of before!