Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a perennial vine of the pea family native to Eastern Asia. The English word kudzu is derived from Japanese "kuzu", which means the plant itself, or powdered starch extracted from the plant's root.
Kuzu powder, also known as kuzuko, is valued in Japan as the highest-grade of starch. It has been long used in many high-quality Japanese restaurants and wagashi makers ("wagashi" means traditional Japanese sweets), as well as in home cooking -- for making sauces, soups, coating foods before deep frying, etc. and also for making desserts.
When kuzu powder dissolved in water is heated slowly, it gels and takes on translucent looks. It is ideal as a thickener because sauces made with kuzu are more likely to maintain their temperature, ensuring that foods are at the proper warmth or coldness when served.
Kuzu starch particles are extremely fine compared with other kinds of starch, so kuzu allows foods to develop a uniquely smooth and delicate texture. Kuzu is one of the main ingredients of Japanese summer sweets. The translucent appearance with smooth and slippery taste of chilled kuzu gel or kuzu coated wagashi really brings us cool feelings.
Kuzu is also known for its medical properties and recognized as organic food. Recently, a variety of international cuisines both in Japan and abroad use kuzu.
History of Morino Yoshino-Kuzu Honpo
(Honpo means "the original store" in Japanese)
Morino Yoshino-Kuzu Honpo began manufacturing kuzu starch about 450 years ago in Shimoichi, a suburb of Yoshino County, Nara Prefecture.
In 1616, we moved from Yoshino to nearby Ouda, where good quality of water and colder climate have been available until now, both of which are essential in manufacturing kuzu.
The company name, Morino Yoshino-Kuzu, is taken from the original location. Since the foundation, we have made every effort to achieve the highest quality in our products, while preserving the original manufacturing process.
Generation after generation, we have been given the great honor of presenting our kuzu at the enthronement ceremonies of new emperors.
Wild mountain kuzu roots grown in Japan are used in manufacturing our products.
We crush the roots, purify them with natural underground spring water, extract the starch, and dry the starch naturally.
All the process is carried out in the open air in the coldest season so that the highest quality of kuzu is obtained.
The names "Yoshino-Honkuzu" and "Yoshino-Kuzu" are exclusively used by the groups and companies approved by Japan Patent Office.
We assure you that our "Yoshino-Honkuzu" and "Yoshino-Kuzu" are truly authentic.
After rinsing off the dirt, crush and squeeze the roots, and strain them to obtain the puree.
The coldness prevents bacteria from growing.
It takes more than two months to complete this process.