Bamboo Farming USA

March, 2014

Praecox shoots two weeks BEFORE moso. In 2011 the soil temperature inside the research plot was 52F; in 2012, 56°F; 2013, 60°F and in 2014 the soil temperature was 53°F. Outside the grove, in the path the soil reached 54°F by March 10.

The dug shoot has its base intact.  It is more difficult and takes more time to dig an intact shoot. Shoots with an intact base weigh more. Their shelf life is greater. However for the consumer, they are paying for woody bases that must be cut off and thrown away.

The shoot was dug in the pathway outside the grove where there are weeds. Inside the grove, I maintain a weed free research plot. The remaining shoots in the path are being allowed to grow up in 2014 because they will be transplanted to a new research farm in Hawkinsville, Georgia. Normally all shoots in the pathway outside the grove are harvested and sold. This total harvest increases product to be sold and maintains an open roadway.

I use a serrated knife to cut off the woody base. This shoot is on the old side. A younger shoot would not have roots beginning to grow. Look closely and see that the spearlike tips of the shoot are beginning to grow into leaves. This change of the soil piercing tip of the bamboo to a leaflike structure is a clue to the age of the shoot. The age of the shoot is a clue to its quality.

I slice through the tough sheath leaves with a paring knife. Notice the middle shoot has leaves at the tip that are opening into leaves. This is the older shoot.

I cut off the woody base. I would have left it except my knife told me it is tough.

There is up to 50% wastage in a bamboo shoot by the time you remove the woody, rooty base, the hard base above the rooty base, the sharp leaf tips, and the sheet leaves. More accurately there is a lot of wastage in a praecox shoot and presumably in others. Phyllostachys praecox is long and narrow. The lower part is woody. Perhaps there is less wastage in other varieties. I will be checking on that aspect of other varieties as the season advances.

I believe and will test this year, whether livestock will eat the sheath leaves and woody butts. If the animals enjoy these leaves and butts, then the wastage has an on-farm use in addition to adding to the compost pile or returning to the grove as mulch.

The older shoot has skin that has begun to turn green. I took a potato peeler and peeled off the skin. I believe the bitterness of an older shoot is in the green skin. I have not yet done a test to compare taste with and without green skin. My Chinese friend who is a GREAT cook, peels skin.

Another clue that the shoot is older is the elongation of the internodes at the lower end of the shoot. At the upper end the septums are close together. In essence the top end is young even thought the bottom end is old. Your knife will tell you how tender the upper end is compared to the lower end.

I cubed the tough lower end. The very tender and delicious leaves at the top I cut into large pieces. The part with the septum’s close together, I sliced so when served, it is easy to see that you are eating bamboo. Decoratively sliced bamboo does not look like other vegetables. It adds beauty to a dish.

I dropped the cut up shoots into rapidly boiling water. A short time later (under 5 minutes), I stuck in a fork and tasted a piece. Tasted cooked to me! I drained the cooked pieces into a colander and ran cold water over them to stop the cooking.

These cooked bamboo shoots go into the refrigerator. I take them out as I need them to add to salads and various hot dishes. Bamboo shoots are very low in calories. Excellent for filling you up and helping you lose weight.

Here I added tomatoes, celery, cheddar cheese and avocados with a small amount of mayonnaise. What could be easier! And tastes so good.

I was out of lettuce. This is a great dish by itself or with a side of broiled meat or a bowl of soup. Today, when I made this salad for lunch I added torn up spinach leaves. These added a nice splash of dark green.