Collecting Spring Sprouts
After the arrival of spring, I received call from a friend who asked me to accompany him and some friends on a hike into the forest to harvest spring bamboo sprouts.
Walking through the forest, we found that the spring bamboo shoots were about five times larger than the winter shoots. Essentially, the spring shoots had become small moso culms that had begun their ascent upward through the thawed soil. Spring shoots grow at a much faster pace than winter shoots, mostly due to warmer weather and the increased sunshine.
The shoots we sought were visible as either large bumps on the surface soil or as small shoots barely protruding through the forest floor.
In other places, the bamboo had emerged too far above the surface to be harvested. Although, this bamboo still may have been classified as a ‘shoot,’ it had become too dense and fibrous to be eaten.
The spring shoots were much easier to find and extract from the earth than their winter counterparts. Unfortunately, they would not be as tender and tasty as their winter counterparts. It’s a world of trade-offs.
It didn’t take long to gather as many bamboo shoots as we could carry. No one was concerned that we overharvested. Bamboo is a rhizome, and it would continue to spring from the soil for the rest of the season. Later, workers would need to cull much of it to prevent the forest from becoming overcrowded.
When we reached home, we cooked the bamboo shoots, mixing them with other vegetables. Winter shoots, of course, would have been much more exquisite than spring shoots, but the harvesting had been fun and the meal was quite enjoyable.