December 1, 2012
There are over a thousand bamboo species known, but less than ten percent of these have edible shoots. “Edible” refers to those that are either choice or tolerable. Woody shoots containing too much cellulose are definitely inedible.
Some species produce shoots that are immediately edible, though canned, cooked, and pickled varieties abound.
Many shoots absolutely require preparation. They contain high amounts of organic cyanides. These poisonous compounds break down readily when boiled. A 90 minute cook time in boiling water seems to be the heuristic for safe consumption.
Depending on when they are harvested, edible bamboo shoots are grouped as spring, summer, or winter shoots.
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