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How to harvest bamboo shoots

a bird sitting on top of a dirt field

There are hundreds of species of bamboo, all of which are edible. Some are better than others, many species only grow tough, bitter shoots, which must be cooked for a long time to be edible. Black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) grows well in our lower mainland (BC) climate and is very tasty, just make sure you grow it in pots or have a root barrier or it will take over your yard like Godzilla!

Bamboo shoot at harvesting height

If you already have bamboo growing on your property, simply follow the instructions below to harvest and prepare the shoots to see if they are worth eating or not (all bamboo shoots should be cooked prior to consumption, as this neutralizes toxins that occur in some species).

Please make sure of your identification for any plant before you harvest, going out with a local guide is a good rule of thumb

  • Harvest bamboo shoot when they are less than 1ft tall
  • Peel the outer skin from around each shoot until to you have exposed the soft white interior – this is the edible portion
  • Cook shoots soon, as they become bitter in storage. Simply slice and boil for 10 minutes. If they are still tough or bitter after 10 minutes, change the water and boil again for another 10 minutes, repeating until they are tender and tasty.
  • I like to freeze mine to preserve them if I have a big batch

To learn more about wild foraging in BC, come on one of our wild mushroom or edible spring/summer plant tours with a wildcraft expert. Click here for info…