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Generally, in Springtime, a bamboo grove sends up new canes from its underground root system (called a rhizome), Technically, since bamboo is a grass, the grove you see above ground is really one plant - with lots of "blades" in the form of bamboo canes. Early on, while the young "bamboo babies" are no more than several inches to a foot out of the ground (looking somewhat like fat asparagus shoots), the bamboo grove owner decides which canes will be retained for landscaping beauty or later construction and which ones are to be harvested for food. In the East, folks often walk barefoot around the groves in early spring so they can feel the nubs of the emerging shoots. Those to be eaten may then have earth piled around them to enhance their tenderness as they rise beyond ground level. The rising canes can grow from one to three feet per day and living in a bamboo grove is an awesome experience - for this and many other reasons.

After the early shoots are harvested, the outer husk-like covering is removed much like husking corn. Depending on the variety of bamboo being grown (there are many varieties) the tender inside can be eaten raw, or if the particular variety of shoot is bitter, it must be put in boiling water - which is then poured off and boiled with new water from one to three times. The resulting bamboo shoots are a good source of nutrition - being high in protein and other nutrients. The flavor is typically a root-vegetable, nutty taste, with a rather crunchy texture. The concern that bamboo will "take over" if we plant it, commonly expressed among Westerners, is not quite accurate. One can plant bamboo and easily manage the grove, year-by-year, as the rhizome grows - leading to larger and larger canes in the case of running bamboo. Harvesting for eating and construction (even giving away) helps keep the grove size in check.

Offered by Granville.

The young shoot of the culm is edible when harvested just before it emerges from the soil. The shoots are harvested in the morning. A special tool is used to cut them off about twenty cm below the surface. Depending on the species, the shoots appear in spring or fall. Because the outer sheaths are hard and fibrous, like those of artichokes, the shoots must be boiled, sautéed or roasted and then the sheaths removed to reveal the tender heart. The shoots are also sold pre-cooked in cans. They can be added to different dishes as a vegetable, or eaten cold in a salad.

Offered by Mike.