Bamboo shoots or bamboo sprouts are the edible shoots (new bamboo culms that come out of the ground) of many bamboo species including Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis. They are used in numerous Asian dishes and broths.
Raw bamboo shoots contain cyanogenic glycosides, natural toxins. The cyanogenic glycoside in bamboo is called taxiphyllin. The toxins must be destroyed by thorough cooking and for this reason fresh bamboo shoots are often boiled before being used in other ways. Taxiphyllin degrades readily in boiling water. A recommended boil time of 20 minutes to 2 hours is required to soften the shoots and remove the toxins.
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 better tasting than others.
Harvesting Bamboo Shoots