Once Nan Chase gets going in her North Carolina kitchen, nothing — not even kudzu, that ubiquitous invasive vine — is safe from her beverage-making prowess.

kudzu flowers

Kudzu blossoms, destined for beverage greatness.

September is crazy time in the garden, with huge loads of random fruits and vegetables suddenly coming in. The other day my husband brought in two huge and just-about-overripe tomatoes that had been hiding in a tangle of cherry tomatoes. It wasn’t long before the big tomatoes were overripe, and my motto quickly became: “If you bring ripe produce into the house, have a plan or git a plan.” That applies to me, too.

Canning overripe produce is a big no-no, so in coping with the sudden tomato-rama I looked up an old folk recipe for tomato wine, and that’s my plan. I started it last night in a 2-gallon ceramic crock. Results in two years.

Last week my friend and Drink the Harvest co-author, DeNeice Guest, suggested we pick some kudzu blossoms that were about to take over a road near her house. Kudzu! The blossoms of this nuisance plant are beautiful, like wisteria, and smell powerfully of grape Kool-Aid.

kudzu mead

Nan’s kudzu mead should be ready by Thanksgiving of next year.

At home I stripped individual blooms from the tough stalks, made a “tea” by steeping the petals in boiled water overnight, and the next day strained the fragrant liquid. All that was left was to add wine yeast and honey, and the result, in a year or so, should be a rich kudzu mead.

What’s your own big harvest this year? And what’s your plan?

Photos courtesy of the author

Nan K. Chase

Nan K. Chase is the co-author of Drink the Harvest. A member of the Garden Writers Association and of the American Society of Journalists and Authors,… See Bio

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