Find a local pick your own farm here!

Kudzu Jelly - How to make and can kudzu Jelly

How to Make Kudzu Kudzu flowersJelly

PDF print version

Yes, you can make a tasty jelly from kudzu flowers.  The closest description of the flavor is that it tastes similar to raspberry jelly. And making and canning your own kudzu jelly is quite easy and inexpensive. Here's how to do it, in easy steps and completely illustrated.

For easy other easy, illustrated jam, jelly, and other canning directions, like applesauce or apple butter directions, click on these links.

Ingredients

  • Kudzu blossoms - At least 4 cups of kudzu blossoms. I prefer to do 6 cup batches. See step 1 for details.
  • Pectin - 1 and a half packages (box usually) or if you get it in bulk, 6 Tablespoons, see the directions below for specifics - (it's a natural product, made from apples and available at grocery stores (season - spring through late summer) and local "big box" stores. It usually goes for about $2.00 to $2.50 per box. You'll get best results with no-sugar needed pectin, whether you choose to add sugar or not! See here for more information about how to choose the type of pectin to use.
  • Sugar - About 5 cups of dry, granulated (table) sugar, if you use the no-sugar-needed pectin (the only type I recommend) or low sugar pectin.  If you use regular pectin, you'll need 7 cups of sugar. Of course, you can substitute honey, agave, stevia or Splenda; just be sure to use the no-sugar needed type of pectin.  See this page for more information about pectin and where to get it.
  • Lemon juice - 1/4 cup, preferably bottled, for the consistency of the pH

Equipment

  • Large spoons and ladles
  • Jar funnel ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page) or order it as part of the kit with the jar grabber.
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)- Big box stores and grocery stores sometimes carry them; and it is available online - see this page. It's a tremendously useful to put jars in the canner and take the hot jars out (without scalding yourself!). The kit sold below has everything you need, and at a pretty good price:
  • At least 1 large pot; I prefer 16 to 20 quart Teflon lined pots for easy cleanup.
  • 1 Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.). Note: we sell canners and supplies here, too - at excellent prices - and it helps support this web site!
  • Ball jars (Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger, Safeway carry them, as do some big box stores - about $7 per dozen 8 ounce jars including the lids and rings)
  • Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar. They may only be used once.
  • Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars. They may be reused many times.

Optional stuff:

  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at big box stores or it comes in the kit at left)

KudzuKudzu jelly-making Directions

This example shows you how to make kudzu jelly. You can use this recipe to make almost any type of jelly from the fruit juice; where there is a difference, I will point it out! The yield from this recipe is about 12 eight-ounce jars (which is the same as 6 pints).

kudzu flowers, hangfing upside down, as they normally appearStep 1 - Pick the kudzu blossoms!

It's easy to find and pick kudzu blossoms.  Kudzu is a weed, originally brought here from Asia, which grows al over the South of the US. It is an annual weed that grows at a phenomenal rate.  Goats are often used to eat it and control it.   I go to any City, State or National park or wildlife area to find it. That way, you don't need to worry about pesticides or contaminants.   Kudzu blooms from July through September.  I find most in August.

You only need the individual open flowers, not the closed buds, so you simply grasp the purple flow stalk with your hand and gently pull them off. You will need to collect at least 6 cups of flowers to make a batch of jelly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kudzu flowersStep 2 - How many flowers to pick?

kudzu jelly can ONLY be made in rather small batches - about 4 to 6 cups at a time - like the directions on the pectin say, DO NOT increase the recipes or the kudzu jelly won't "set" (jell, thicken).

 

So that means you'll want to pick 4 to 6 cups amounts of kudzu flowers.  Basically if you loosely fill a grocery store plastic bag, that's about 6 cups, after you remove the stems and unopened blooms.

  

 

Step 3 - Wash the jars and lids

Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used.

dishwasher for canning jarsNOTE: If unsanitized jars are used, the product should be processed for 5 more minutes. However, since this additional processing can result in a poor set (runny jelly), it's better to sanitize the jars.

Instead of the above, you can also put the jars in the boiling water in the canner for 5 minutes before you fill them - this is the best method!

Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.

Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot jelly.

  

 

Step 4 -Clean and wash the kudzu blossoms!Kudzu flowers, cleaned up

First pick out any brown or dead flowers, bugs, stems and other debris. Then rinse gently under cold water.

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

measure the sugarStep 5 - Measure out the sugar

If you use the regular pectin it takes 7 cups of sugar to 5 or 6  cups of juice and one and a half boxes (5 or 6 Tablespoons) of regular pectin. You can use only 5 cups of sugar if you use the "no-sugar-needed" pectin. . Mix the dry pectin with about 1/4 cup of the sugar and keep this separate from the rest of the sugar. If you are not using sugar, you'll just have to stir more vigorously to prevent the pectin from clumping.

 

 

 

 

 

Steeping kudzu flowersStep 6 - Boil 5 cups of water  and steep the flowers

Now get 5 or 6 cups of water boiling (1 cup of boiling water per cup of flowers).  Then pour it over the Kudzu flowers in either a Pyrex glass container or a Teflon or ceramic lined metal container.  No bare metal!   Now, we let it steep or soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

SStraining kudzu flowerstep 7 - Strain the steeped "Kudzu Tea"Strained kudzu tea

Just pour the steep kudzu flowers through a strainer, sieve or jelly strainer.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 8 - Put the kudzu tea in a large pot, add lemon juice and pectin

Discard the flowers and Put the kudzu extract6 or tea in a big pot on the stove. Add the pectin from step 5 (mixed with 1/4 cup of the sugar). Stir well. Now add the 1/4 cup of lemon juice.Lemon Juice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 9 - Bring to a full boil

Kudzu tea in potHeat the pot on the stove over medium to high heat (stir often enough to prevent burning). It should take about 5 to 10 minutes to get it to a full boil (the kind that cannot be stirred away).

Notes about pectin: I usually add about 25% - 30% more pectin (just open another pack and add a little) or else the jelly is runnier than I like. With a little practice, you'll find out exactly how much pectin to get the thickness you like.

Another tip: use the low sugar or no-sugar pectin. It cuts the amount of sugar you need from 7 cups per batch to 4 cups. And it tastes even better! On the other hand; I still add some sugar, even with the No-sugar pectin. With no added sugar, the batches always turned out runny and bland. You might want to try using the low sugar recipe with a mixture of sugar and Stevia (or if you prefer, agave, honey or Splenda); that could work, but you do get the best results with sugar.

Is your jelly too runny? Pectin enables you to turn out perfectly set jelly every time. Made from natural apples, there are also natural no-sugar pectins that allow you to reduce the sugar you add by half or even eliminate sugar.!
Get them all here at the best prices on the internet!
Widemouth Canning lids - get canning jar lids here through AmazonGet canning lids on Amazon here, fast and inexpensive, and BPA-free

Step 10 - Get the lids warming in hot (but not boiling) water

If you didn't do so already, put the lids into a pan of hot water for at least several minutes; to soften up the gummed surface and clean the lids.

 

Need lids, rings and replacement jars?

Get them all here, delivered direct to your home, at the best prices on the internet!

 

Kudzu jelly cookingStep 11 - When boiling, add the remaining sugar and bring back to a boil

When the kudzu-pectin mix has reached a full boil, add the rest of the sugar (about 4.5 cups of sugar per 5 or 6 cup batch of kudzu extract 4 and then bring it back to a boil and then boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly

 

 

  

 

 

Testing for "jell" (thickness)Step 12 - Testing for "jell" (thickness)

I keep a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon. If it thickens up to the consistency I like, then I know the jelly is ready. If not, I mix in a little more pectin (about 1/4 to 1/2 of another package) and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute.

 

 

 

 

 

Filling the jars with kudzu jellyStep 13 - Fill the jars and put the lid and rings on

Fill them to within 1/4-inch of the top, wipe any spilled jelly off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Do not tightenn hard; just 1/4 turn past when it seats; just snug so they don't leak, Then put them into the boiling water canner!

This is where the jar tongs come in really handy!

  

  

 

Step 14 - Process the jars in the boiling water bathput in the canner

Keep the jars covered with at least 2 inches of water. Keep the water boiling. In general, boil them for 5 minutes, which is what SureJell (the makers of the pectin) recommend.  I say "in general" because you have to process (boil) them longer at higher altitudes than sea level, or if you use larger jars, or if you did not sanitize the jars and lids right before using them.  The directions inside every box of pectin will tell you exactly - and see the Table below for altitude differences. The directions on the pectin tend to be pretty conservative.  Note: Some people don't even boil the jars; they just ladle it hot into hot jars, put the lids and rings on and invert them, but putting the jars in the boiling water bath REALLY helps to reduce spoilage! To me, it makes little sense to put all the working into making the jelly and then not to process the jars to be sure they don't spoil!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 1. Recommended process time for kudzu jelly in a boiling water canner.
  Process Time at Altitudes of
Style of Pack Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Hot Half-pints
or Pints
5 min 10 15

 

Kudzu jelly in jarsStep 15 - Remove and allow the jars to cool - Done!

Lift the jars out of the water with your jar lifter tongs and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.

Once cooled, they're ready to store. I find they last up to 12 months. But after about 6 to 8 months, they get darker in color and start to get runny. They still are safe to eat, but the flavor and texture aren't as good. So eat them in the first 6 months after you prepare them!


Other Equipment:

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter - to remove lids from the pot of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lid - disposable - you may only use them once
  4. Ring - holds the lids on the jar until after the jars cool - then you don't need them
  5. Canning jar funnel - to fill the jars
Canning tools


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I was reading the instructions on making kudzu jelly. Where do you find Kudzu?

A.Kudzu is an invasive plant species, not native to the U.S., but it has taken over much of the southeast and some of the coastal northwest, see the map:


Comments and tips

  • A visitor writes on August 29, 2017: "I used your instructions to make my first batch of kudzu jelly.. I've never made jelly of any type before and I got brave and attempted it..:D It worked out fabulously and I wanted to say Thank you for your great instructions.. :D Now I am making my third batch after my family and friends loved it so much!! :D

Other related information

Notes for September 2017: Blueberries and peaches are going still in northern and cooler areas, but are mostly finished in the Deep South. Blackberries, figs,  and raspberries are in season now. Tomatoes are going strong, although the crop is way diminished in rainy areas like the southeast.  Strawberries are finished, except in the far north, and if the farm planted Day Neutral varieties. Early apples, like Gala, are about to start!

Children's Consignment Sales occur in both the Spring and Fall  See our companion website to find a local community or church kid's consignment sale!

Next year, don't miss an Easter Egg Hunt for your children: See our companion website to find a local Easter Egg hunt!

We also have home canning, preserving, drying and freezing directions. You can access recipes and other resources from the drop down menus at the top of the page or the site search. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to write me! It is easy to make your own ice cream, even gelato, or low fat or low sugar ice cream - see this page. Also note, there are many copycat website listing U-pick farms now.  They have all copied their information form here and usually do not ever update.  Since 2002, I've been updating the information every day but Christmas; so if you see anything wrong, please write me!

Fall allergy  air filter

Summer allergies  air filter