The tender young shoots from many bamboo species can be eaten. Those grown at higher altitudes and in colder climates are generally the sweetest. Some species can be quite bitter.
Bamboo shoots are sold in the markets whole, still in their sheaths, or in many stages of preparation. If purchasing unprocessed bamboo shoots, remove the sheaths, cut the shoot in half lengthwise, and boil in unsalted water for 20-30 minutes. Drain and cut as needed for your recipe.
Bamboo shoots can be stir fried or added to soups and curries.
Market and storage tips Peel away the outer leaves, cut off and discard the base, and cook the edible inner core in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. This critical step will remove the hydrocyanic acid, a bitter and dangerous poison which is naturally present in bamboo. Taste the shoot to test for bitterness. Boil longer if necessary. Drain, rinse, and use immediately, or refrigerate covered with fresh water. Change the water daily.