Fresh bamboo shoots vary from an inch up to seven inches wide at their base. They consist of several fibrous layers tightly bound and overlapping one another to form a conical point. Their color is plantain yellow with brown markings throughout. The bamboo shoot's flavor is mild and sweet, similar to that of baby corn.
Fresh bamboo shoots are available throughout the year with a peak season from late Spring to early Summer.
Fresh bamboo shoots are young, new bamboo canes that are harvested before they are two weeks old or one-foot tall. They are harvested for their tender ivory-colored inner core.
Fresh bamboo shoots must be cooked before eating as raw shoots are bitter and texturally hard to digest. The outer leaves are tough and will not be edible regardless of cooking, thus they should be removed prior to cooking. It is recommended to boil or steam for 20 minutes prior to actually utilizing them further. Bamboo shoots can be stir fried, grilled, roasted, marinated and pickled.
Bamboo shoots are used frequently in Asian cuisine. Commercially canned bamboo shoots are common, but freshly harvested bamboo has far better flavor and texture.