Before you go to the grove to harvest bamboo shoots, sharpen the spade. With a knife sharp edge, your work is
easier. Take a file along with you to touch up the edge as you work.
Decide which shoots should grow into poles.
When you harvest shoots, you are managing the grove. Two shoots in the photo are distant from the cane/culm. Don't
harvest those two. They have space to grow up. They will help fill in the grove. Harvest the one next to the culm
because If it were to grow up, it would crowd the existing cane. The existing cane is not yet scheduled to be cut
as a pole and needs sunlight on its leaves. It does not need to be shaded by a new cane and a new cane needs space
I often use surveyor tape to mark the shoots I leave to grow up.
This grove is
Phyllostachys praecoxthe earliest
Mark the ones to grow up.
I often use surveyor tape to mark the shoots I leave to grow up. In my research plots I decided to use a
different color each time I harvest. I mark the ones in the best position to fill in bare spaces in the grove or to
replace canes I plan to harvest when shooting is over.
Control spread by harvesting all shoot that are out of bounds.
Figure out where the shoot attaches to the rhizome. If you can tell by the slight leaning of the shoot, you may be
able to drive the spade between shoot and rhizome and sever the rhizome neck cleanly. With a perfect cut through
the rhizome neck, the base of the culm remains intact. It is protected from drying out by its sheath leaves. The
intact shoot will weigh more and will last under refrigeration longer than shoots whose bases are trimmed
This shoot is coming up outside the grove where there is grass and weeds. All the shoots outside the grove will
be harvested to control the size of the grove.
An intact shoot weighs more, lasts longer.
Here the shoot base is complete because the spade cut the rhizome, not the shoot. The sheath leaves cover the
base of the shoot. Its moisture and freshness will last longer than if they were cut off.
A perfect cut would have been on the neck which connects shoot and rhizome and left the rhizome intact. Such a
cut is usually impossible because to do it you cut part of the base of the shoot.
My bamboo shoots in my Coleman picnic cooler easily last two weeks. I freeze half gallon plastic bottles
and put them in the cooler. They slowly defrost for the next 24 hours. In the morning I put a fresh one
Sometimes you don't get the whole shoot.
The spade cut into the base of the shoot instead of into the neck. On the left is the usable shoot. On the right is
the base of the shoot which has been trimmed off by my knife. The cut between the two parts by the shovel is
obscured by the sheath leaf that remains on the wastage/base. Look closely to see the cut under the leaf that the
shovel made. The age of the shoot is perfect. The meat is white and the "primordial roots" (red dots) have
not begun to elongate. This means that the shoot is young and excellent to eat.
Wastage is between 25 and 30 percent on many shoots. The cut-off butts are excellent food for hogs and other
Some have intact bases; some were cut above the base.
If you look closely, you will see that some of these shoots have intact bases and some have had their bases sliced
by the spade. Intact bases are brown, the color of the sheath leaf. Sliced shoots have white bases, the color of
the meat. Mud obscures the white. I should have washed them before taking the photo.
These are shoots of
Phyllostachys praecoxbefore they have been washed and trimmed.
To free the shoot from its sheath leaves, slice the shoot in half. Bend the tip of the sheath leaves back and the
meat will come free. The tender bases of the leaves are good to eat also.
The closer together are the internode spaces, the more tender is the meat. At the base where the spaces are
larger the flesh is firmer/ more fibrous. Experienced bamboo cooks use the base in soups and stews. The tops
are broiled, grilled or stir fired.
These shoots are excellent. The flesh is white and perfect. They have been sliced lengthwise. Next they will be
dropped into boiling water for seven minutes. Then they pour into a colander and go into a pan with oil. They
are tossed in the oil and placed under the broiler for five minutes. Out they come. Soy sauce is added to the oil.
The shoots are turned to coat with oil and soy sauce. Back into the broiler (or grill) they go for another five
minutes. Parmeson cheese is sprinkled on them for one more minute under the broiler.
The soy sauce makes them brown. Chewy, delicious, easy to fix.
On the other hand, you can slice and cook. This photo shows frozen bamboo shoots. They were sliced, blanched,
cooled quickly in ice water and frozen. The tender upper end of the shoot is cut in large pieces. The tougher lower
end of the shoot is sliced thin.
These frozen pieces can be added to an assortment of dishes. Bamboo picks up the flavor of the spices it is
cooked with. Recipes use flavors such as garlic, ginger, meats, mushrooms and soy sauce. What bamboo adds is
texture and its attractive shape.
Slice off the tip of the shoot. With a peeler, remove the skin with the red dots. The base is
tough; the middle is firm; the top is tender.
Base, middle, top
The fibrous base is cut into chunks and used in stews. The firm middle is stuffed with chopped
meat. The leafy top is used in salads and vegetable dishes.
Chunks cut from the base of the shoot
These chunks are chewy and go well cooked with beef.
Rounds cut from the middle of the shoot
These can be stuffed and then served as hors d'oeuvres.
Thin slices cut from the top of the shoot
The tops need little boiling. They are great in salads and stir fries.
Ready for stir frying
If you love fresh vegetables, you will love a stir fry with bamboo shoots and sliced
To make a salad of bamboo shoots, slice them thin. Drop them in boiling
water for a short while. Bamboo retains its crunchiness.
Bamboo is wonderful stir fried with other vegetables and flavored with
meat. Serve over rice.