Known as the fast-growing, tree-smothering "weed that ate the South," kudzu can actually be eaten itself. This highly invasive weed covers more than 7 million acres of the southern United States, giving you an unending supply with which to experiment in the kitchen. Southerners have found dozens of ways to eat kudzu, from making jams and jellies to pickling the weed’s flowers. Steam or boil the roots until they’re tender and add soy sauce or miso, as is done in Asian cooking, or brew a kudzu tea by chopping up a cup of leaves and boiling them for about 30 minutes to treat allergies, colds, fevers, and indigestion.
“The secret to making kudzu palatable is parboiling it very briefly to remove the fuzz from the leaves,” Landers says. “Substitute small kudzu leaves for basil to make kudzu pasta, or try replacing grape leaves with kudzu in otherwise-traditional Greek dolmas.”
Supermarket Fix: If foraging for wild edibles isn’t your thing, be sure to source organically grown greens and herbs at the store or farmers’ market to avoid harmful pesticides that can actually be taken up inside of the plant.
Learn More: The 20 Foods You Need to Avoid
Photo: (cc) Clinton Steeds/Flickr