Monday, April 14, 2014

Shooting Bamboo for the Pantry

You don't have to shoot bamboo, though when you live in the subtropics, this time of year you would probably want to.This time last year, I spent some time with a dear friend who lives in the hills behind Mullumbimby.The micro climate there allows her to grow an amazing variety of food crops from stone fruit to sub tropical species.

In April her giant edible bamboo is sending up massive shoots that grow as you watch. I was happy to spend an afternoon harvesting and processing them.

Thick gloves, long sleeves and a machete are essential. Theses shoots are tough and covered in itchy hairs.

After trimming them at ground level, the outer leaves are stripped and the shoots cut in half lengthwise.

This exposes the wonderful pattern of chambers that will stretch to become the hollow interior of the bamboo stems that make them so structurally strong and flexible.. It made me want to rush off for some
paint and paper to do some block printing with them.

They are then cooked in salted water until they are softened and a creamy yellow colour.

Drained and rinsed, they are then ready to use, cryvac or bottle. They keep well in the fridge.

My respect for bamboo has grown another notch. Fast growing without fertilisers or chemicals, we have have the most fabulous source of  material for making structures, bowls and plates, simple garden stakes, woven baskets, fabric, fuel, food and medicine. It can stabilise slopes and riverbanks and there are varieties to suit all climates. Investigate this fabulous resource further: plants, pictures and a data base  How why and what of bamboo

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