9 November 2006
When it first came from Japan around 1900, America loved kuzu. Southern farmers delighted in its wisteria–like flowers perfuming the summer air, and its large root system, ideal for building soil and preventing soil erosion. Cattle grazed on its high protein leaves. Kuzu enjoyed perfect growing conditions in the South, but by the 1950s America's love affair with kuzu turned sour as it began to grow out of control. Today you may recognize kuzu best as the sea of green that blankets millions of acres of the Southeast each year, smothering utility poles, trees, and barns. Ironically, while many Americans wage perpetual war on these plants, many others have rekindled their love affair with kuzu, rediscovering it as the important health food and culinary treasure that Asians have known it to be for centuries.
Kuzu (Pueraia lobata), a.k.a. kudzu, has been an important food in China for at least 2,000 years. In Japan kuzu has been praised in poetry and legend for more than 1,000 years. Its roots are among the largest in the world, ranging in length from three to seven feet and averaging 200 pounds. In traditional Oriental medicine the kuzu root is prized for its ability to strengthen digestion and to promote overall vitality. Recent studies have found that kuzu may reduce cravings for alcohol and benefit those suffering from addiction. Modern research attributes kuzu's traditional health benefits to bioflavonoid antioxidants concentrated in the kuzu root. In the kitchen, kuzu root starch has long been valued as a healthful, natural thickener for sauces, gravies, soups, desserts, and beverages.
In Japan kuzu harvesting occurs from December to March when the sap and energy gathers in the root. EDEN Organic Kuzu Root Starch begins with organically certified, wild roots, hand harvested carried down from the mountains on backpacks. Each root is cleaned and hand–cut into chunks that are crushed into fibers, soaked and rinsed, creating a thick paste. The paste is repeatedly washed and filtered in cold mountain spring water until it becomes a pure white starch. The kuzu starch is allowed to dry naturally for 90 days, then crushed into small chunks and packed. EDEN Organic Kuzu Root Starch is a versatile thickener that dissolves quickly in any cold liquid and has no perceptible taste. Unlike industrially processed corn and potato starches, EDEN Kuzu is handcrafted, natural, and uniquely nourishing.
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