Bamboo - Black
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Black Bamboo shoot ready to be peeled in the kitchen.
Phyllostachys nigra
Bamboo - Black

Acquired: 2003
How started:

Black bamboo really turns back after a few seasons. Black bamboo has some of the tastiest shoots that can be grown in my edible landscape in Seattle.

Advice from Bamboo Farming USA [2]: "Henon starts to shoot when the soil temperature reaches 60°F/15.5C. In my research plots in Georgia, henon stopped shooting at 70°F. In Seattle henon is a good choice for shoots and poles. However, henon (and maybe all bamboos) has a particular time when it shoots. If the weather is rainy and cold and therefore the soil does not warm to 60°F during shooting time, the henon does not catch up later. Delayed springtime warmth, causes reduced yields when the soil finally does warm up. Therefore in cold spring climates like Seattle's (Puget Sound - western Washington), henon must be planted facing south on a soil that will warm up by shooting season."

"We tasted the shoots in the field. Raw they were acrid. The more we tasted, the more sensitive our tongues became and the more we tasted the acridity, unpleasant burning taste. In our kitchen, we sliced the shoots lengthwise and stir fried them along with other vegetables. They were delicious. We did not blanch them before stir frying."

In general, if the fresh bamboo shoots are too acrid, precooking them in boiling water, 20-40 minutes, maybe with a change in water, may be required to tame the flavor. Black Bamboo shoots are some of the sweetest.

Advice from Bamboo Forums [1]: "Identify the shoots you want to eat as soon as they are first visible above ground, usually under an inch tall. Then put a 1 gallon nursery pot over them upside down - a coffee can would surely work. When they have grown enough to lift the cover off the ground cut 'em down and eat 'em. The cover keeps the light off/chlorophyll down and they are sweeter. If you get started late in the season and they are several inches above the ground, you can cut the shoots off at the ground (or just kick them). But if you want to get more of the shoot - you can dig down and get the whole shoot down to where it is connected to the rhizome. Use a small sharp shovel to do this."

"Slice them in half longways and then gently push from the outside toward the cut/exposed cente. As the soft center pops up, pull it out, discarding the rest."

What do fresh shoots taste like? Some say they taste like baby corn. Phyllostachys bissetii is one of the best. You can nibble a raw shoot of a given species to see how they taste, usually there is an acrid/bitter aftertaste that vanishes upon stir frying, some are decent even raw.

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