New shoots!

Bamboo grows quickly especially when weather is hot and wet.

Bamboo in the background...wind chimes in the foreground...rain all around

We've recently had both at our Central Florida homestead and our many clumping bamboo plants have responded to the rain and high temperatures by sending out an explosion of new shoots.

The prolific Seabreeze Bamboo (Bambusa malingensis) sends out more new shoots than any other clumping variety 

The colorful green and yellow striped shoot of Asian Lemon Timber Bamboo are so pretty when they emerge

Blue Timber Bamboo is another prolific shooter with shades of pink, light blue and purple in the baby canes

It's always exciting to see new shoots emerge.  Even after 21 years of growing bamboo, I'm never tired of watching bamboo grow!


Edible Bamboo Shoots Orlando

Malory and Tim had a wonderful day May 22nd when Beautiful Bamboo attended the Manatee Rare Fruit Council's 25th Annual Rare Fruit Tree Sale. We were invited by MRFC to enhance the variety of edible plants available with the addition of bamboo.  It was a day of tree-talk and kindred spirits - such a fun time investigating all of the tropical fruit trees for sale and talking with folks about the edibility of bamboo plants. We brought specimens of  Giant Timber (Bambusa oldhamii), Seabreeze (Bambusa Malingensis), Dwarf Buddha Belly (Bambusa vulgaris Wamin), Graceful (Bambusa textilis gracilis) and a few others.

Tim stands with beautiful, young Giant Timber bamboos.

Edible Bamboo Varieties

In the spring and summer, as the new shoots are emerging from the ground, they can be cut, processed and eaten. Traditional in many Asian cuisines like Chinese and Thai, young bamboo shoots are crunchy, fibrous, and starchy-tasting, similar to water chestnuts or potatoes.

While many bamboo species are edible, some varieties of bamboo are tastier than others. We have harvested and enjoyed eating the shoots of Vivax Timber (Phyllostachys vivax), Green Hedge (Bambusa multiplex Silverstripe), Giant Timber (Bambusa oldhamii) and Seabreeze (Bambusa Malingensis).

Emerging Vivax shoots (Phyllostachys vivax).  The small ones on left are ready to harvest.

We have also heard Dendrocalamus asper is a delicious bamboo variety commonly harvested for food in Asia. For a list of choice edible bamboo species, check out Guadua Bamboo's complete list.

Nutritional Value of Bamboo Shoots

As you might expect of a plant food, bamboo is very health-promoting and nutritious. It is low in saturated fat and sodium, and very low in cholesterol. Bamboo is also a good source of dietary fiber, protein, riboflavin and zinc, and a very good source of vitamin B6, potassium, copper and manganese. Despite the good nutrition found in bamboo shoots, one must be cautious of which varieties to eat. Some bamboo varieties contain cyanogenic glycosides, a toxic cyanide. See Preparing below to learn how to safely eat bamboo.

Harvesting Bamboo Shoots

Harvest new bamboo shoots when they are about four to six inches tall. As they grow taller they become more fibrous, so shoots greater than six or so inches tall might be too tough. At six-inches or less, they are still tender to eat. Try to find larger emerging shoots, about 2-3" in diameter, which will have more of the edible flesh inside. You can cut them with a saw or sawzall at or below the ground level.
Emerging dentrocalamus shoots Photo credit: digplanet.com/wiki/Dendrocalamus

Malory with freshly cut shoots of Bambusa oldhamii

Preparing Bamboo Shoots

Because some bamboo varieties contain toxic cyanogenic glycosides, it is best to know the species you are preparing. We recommend boiling the shoots for about an hour to 90 minutes, which will render most varieties safe to eat. However, the safest method is to figure out what variety of bamboo you are harvesting, and look it up for edibility.

After boiling, allow shoots to cool to the touch, remove the hard outer skin and cut the pointy top off. Cut shoots lengthwise to expose the soft inner flesh. Chop shoots into desired size and shape, and your bamboo shoots are ready to cook!

Many Thai recipes call for bamboo shoots in curry dishes; they are delicious stir fried with other vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms and carrots. For the Japanese method of preparing bamboo shoots, takenoko akunuki, check out this article from KyotoFoodie.com.

Check out this yummy recipe at A Little Bit Burnt

Not only people love bamboo...

It's true.  I do love bamboo!  I also love all the wildlife I see in and around our many bamboo-covered acres.  Below are a few of my favorite photos of animals - large and small - taking advantage of Beautiful Bamboo.

Blue dragonfly on emerging Vivax aureocaulis