Kudzu (Pueraria lobata,) is a perennial plant belonging to the pea family called Fabaceae. The kudzu plant is a prolific, tough, fibrous vine with heart-shaped leaves that was used as a food in China for more than 2,000 years, and praised in Japanese poetry and legend as a fortifying health food and ideal thickener. Its roots are among the largest in the world, ranging in length from about 1m to over 2 m and weighing between 90kg to 180kg. The Kudzu plant has been part of everyday life in Japan since ancient times. Every part of the kudzu plant–from root to leaves–is useful with practically nothing wasted: the root for edible use or Chinese herbal medicine, leaves for cattle food, and vine for fibers of fabrics. The most familiar by product of Kudzu plants is the starch, regarded as the highest quality cooking starch, or jelling agent in the culinary and confectionary world. Kudzu is used in most dishes and desserts and beverages.
Our Esteemed Supplier
Since 1875 Muso’s supplier has been harvesting and processing kudzu root from wild plants growing in Fukuoka Prefecture in Kyushu Island. Harvesting wild Kudzu consists of the simple but back-breaking work of digging the roots with a shovel. The official harvesting season for Kudzu starts from December and continues through April. There are about 300 professional wild Kudzu harvesters or diggers called “Horiko” working for our supplier. The present harvesting areas span the mountain area of Kagoshima prefecture to the Miyazaki prefecture. Kudzu grows most rapidly during the summer, when the Horiko go deep into the mountains to locate and mark the possible kudzu harvesting areas. In the winter, when the leaves and vines fall, they return to those marked areas for collecting the best roots. Kudzu harvesting is a very secretive operation; each harvester has his own turf like truffle harvesters in the West. All of Muso’s kudzu is harvested from these wild plants that are at least 20 years old. In fact the Horiko will never dig young roots, leaving them for the future use. This is the unspoken rule among the Horiko, their way of showing respect and gratitude toward the natural blessings that are offered to them from the Kudzu roots.
Processing: alchemy for extracting white gold from Kudzu roots
After harvesting, the next step in obtaining kudzu starch is rinsing. This rinsing process is where the Hirohachido demonstrates their 150 years of insight and expertise. The rinsing process at Hirohachido involves a natural process coupled with traditional methods—all without using any chemical substances. Each root is hand-cut into chunks that are crushed into fibers, soaked and rinsed, creating a thick brownish paste. The paste is repeatedly washed and filtered in cold mountain spring water until it becomes a pure
white starch. The kuzu starch is then dried, crushed into small chunks, and packaged for distribution.
the Multi-functional and Healthful Starch
Health Benefits of Kudzu
In traditional Chinese medicine kudzu root is considered one of the 50 fundamental medicinal herbs. Traditionally, Japanese households kept this high quality starch in their pantry as a staple. Grandmothers typically used it to prepare kudzuyu, (kudzu starch gruel) when their family members caught colds. We now understand the use of kudzu as a traditional folk medicine based on research that has discovered healthful phyto-nutrients in the starch, called flavonoids, including puerarin (approximately 60% of
the total isoflavones) and also daidzein and daidzin. The health benefits of kudzu include:
- Kudzu is most effective in treating minor indigestion and the symptoms of the common cold.
- Kudzu is also effective in relieving intestinal discomfort caused by over-acidity, bacterial infections, and diarrhea.
- The isoflavones have been shown to reduce the appetite for alcohol by influencing areas of the central nervous system that control the desire for alcohol. They also are
helpful in eliminating hangovers.
- Kudzu helps soothe emotions, reduces excessive stress, and in Japan it is traditionally used to calm hyperactive children.
- Kudzu is helpful in relieving muscle aches and pains, especially in the neck and shoulders.
- Kudzu’s isoflavones have a positive effect on reducing fevers, in addition to fighting flu symptoms such as muscle aches and headaches.
- In Traditional Chinese medicine, kudzu is prescribed for reducing high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, preventing blood clots, and relieving chronic migraines. As a result, researchers at the University of Alambama in Birmingham performed studies that confirmed kudzu’s effectiveness at normalizing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and stabilizing blood glucose.
- Kudzu’s hard chunks are convenient to chew for relief of heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, or any intestinal issue. It’s an excellent natural antacid for pregnancy heartburn.
Kudzu is basically flavorless and easily dissolves in cool or cold water. Upon heating, it thickens, providing an essential and invaluable ingredient for making a variety of sauces, creams, gravies, and other dishes. Kudzu is a healthful alternative to other commonly used thickeners such as corn starch, tapioca, or arrowroot. Experienced chefs claim that kudzu’s neutral flavor has no effect on the flavors of the other ingredients in a dish made with kudzu. In addition, even when the sauces simmer, kudzu is able to maintain its thickening qualities.
Unsui Brand Kudzu from Muso Japan is distributed in Malaysia by
Woods Eco-cuisine Sdn Bhd (9276699k)
AG-8, block A, ground floor, Happy Mansion,Jalan 17/13, 46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
T: 03-79322439 F: 03-79585795 Whatsapp: 012-8775138 E: firstname.lastname@example.org