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Bamboo shoot


Synonym: bamboo sprouts

botanical name: Bambusa vulgaris, Bambusa arundinacea, Phyllostachys pubescens

family: Gramineae poaceae



General remarks


Bamboo is one of the most important kinds of timber in the tropics and serves as the base material for furniture and paper. There are more than 200 different species, many of which supply edible sprouts as well as wood. The bamboo sprouts are the young shoots and sprouts of this plant and are used in Far-Eastern cuisine as a vegetable.


Origin, areas of cultivation


Bamboo shoots come from the tropical areas of East Asia. They are grown today in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, India, the Philippines and South America. They are raised either as a vegetable culture or as a by-product.


Appearance, taste, characteristics


Bamboo sprouts are edible when the shoots are not yet woody. They taper to a point, are conical and closely encased in pointed leaves like scales. They can be up to 30 cm long and about 7 cm thick and weigh between 150 and 200 g. According to their degree of ripeness and the season, the shoots can be divided into three categories:

- Large spring shoots: have pilose outer leaves that can grow to a diameter of about 10 cm and a length of up to 30 cm.

- Tender summer bamboo shoots: a very fine vegetable resembling thin asparagus. They are practically unavailable outside of China.

- Winter shoots: are harvested when they are still under a layer of leaves or have only just begun to sprout.


Bamboo shoots smell something like mushrooms. They have a delicate flavour resembling that of kohlrabi. However, there are also bitter varieties. Their colour ranges from cream to beige-violet to yellow. The flesh is whitish or yellowish and crisp like briefly cooked asparagus.




Bamboo shoots have very little nutritional value. They supply 17 kilocalories or 72 kilojoules, 2.5 g protein, 0.3 g fat, and 1 g carbohydrate per 100 g. In addition, they contain a high concentration of silicic acid and were thus used in their countries of origin as a healing plant for nervousness and epilepsy.




In Europe the import of fresh bamboo shoots is on the rise, but they are still only limitedly available. They are imported from Brazil all year round as air freight. Fresh bamboo shoots are irregularly seen in Asian shops and at specialist retailers for exotic fruits and vegetables.


Bamboo shoots are more frequently sold in Europe as tinned food. They are cut into halves, strips, cubes or pieces.


Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions


The small shoots are as a rule also the most tender and tasty. Spongy, cottony and soggy flesh is a sign of defective quality. Poor quality is also indicated by brownish spots.


Fresh, unpeeled shoots keep in the refrigerator for several weeks. Already prepared shoots can be frozen with no problem.


Bamboo shoots from a tin should be covered with water in a container and kept in the refrigerator. If the water is changed daily they will keep for up to a week.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation


Bamboo shoots contain a toxic cyanic acid, glucoside, which is destroyed by heat. In Far-Eastern cuisine they have versatile uses. They are cooked or steamed and served mainly with rice dishes. They are prepared by removing the outer leaves and cutting off the tip and the bottom with a knife. The shoots are then cut lengthwise like leeks and the remaining leaves are removed. Depending on how they are to be further processed, the shoots are placed in cold water, whole or cut into pieces. Whole shoots must be cooked for about 40 minutes, pieces for 10-15 minutes.





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