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Identifying, Harvesting & Cooking Bamboo

I first read that bamboo is edible in my Army Survival Manual around age 14. That was over 25 years ago when my knowledge of botany was extremely limited. The book said to eat the young shoots, but there were no details or pictures as to what the young shoots look like or the time of year to harvest them.

Various ways of using edible bamboo with cooked hamburger in the internodes.

To an untrained and unsupervised child this meant trying the young twigs on the existing bamboo that grew near a branch behind my home in Sweet Water, Alabama. It was not a pleasant experience because the twigs were bitter and tough; making them unpalatable.

I gave up trying to eat bamboo for years and instead used it to build structures, makeshift arrows for homemade bows and cane fishing poles for unsuspecting bream.

It would be another 20 years or so before I would successfully eat a young bamboo shoot — the way they are intended to be eaten at a very young and tender age as they pop out of the ground in spring. Continue Reading →