Category Archives: Food, Home and Health

Bamboo recipes, bamboo in the home, and bamboo in health care

Everyday bamboo – Japan

toygirlBamboo is an integral part of material culture in Japan. Nearly everywhere you go in Japan you see examples of bamboo uses in the landscape, architecture, art, craft, kitchens, bathrooms, gardens… By turns beautiful, intricate, functional, and sometimes, just simplicity itself. This week I’m sharing a few examples of ultra-simple bamboo solutions for take away food, barriers, fencing, ritual cleansing, dividers, gates, borders … let’s start with toys. toy

Surely, this must be as simple as it gets to keep kids amused using bamboo. (Compare the bamboo toys on Amazon!) These were made at a school in Hachioji. The girl certainly looks very pleased with them. (Thanks, Chris). On a complexity scale, next may be the taketombo. Here’s a YouTube demo. Learn to make one here.

Near the entrance to temples in Japan, temizuya, or chōzubachi, often use bamboo as a means of keeping the water scoops in easy reach. This one is in Ueno Park, Tokyo. cleansing ritual, bamboo

At a Sunday flea market in Kyoto these bamboo skewers solve that pesky issue of the meat sliding around on a round skewer.

bamboo skewers

This ultra-simple barrier keeps the larger stones where they belong in the sublime gardens of Ōkōchi Sansō in Arashiyama.

bamboo barrier

bamboo fencesbamboo fencesFencing in Japan can be elaborate. It can also be minimal and uncomplicated. These fences act primary as barriers in temples in Kyoto and Arashiyama.

bamboo frameCross sections of large bamboo culms make an eye-catching wall divider in a Tokyo restaurant. (Thanks again, Chris). bamboo branch gateA few bamboo branches sandwiched and lashed with a couple of small bamboo poles vastly improves this otherwise ordinary gate in a temple in Kyoto.

Everyday bamboo shall continue…

Fermented Bamboo Shoots

fresh bamboo shootsFermented foods contain beneficial bacteria that promote balance of intestinal flora. And they taste good. As a recent convert to fermenting, my next step in that adventure is fermented bamboo shoots. I’m just waiting for the bamboo to shoot.

The north-east of India, with the largest stock and diversity of bamboos in India, also has many different ways of preparing fermented bamboo shoots. Traditional methods of fermentation are often supplemented with more convenient materials.

fermentation, fermented bamboo shoots Mesu
Bamboo shoots are finely chopped and pressed into a green bamboo stem. The openings are covered tightly with bamboo leaves. Left to ferment under natural anaerobic conditions for 7-10 days. Eaten as a pickle.

Soibum
Thin slices of bamboo shoots are packed into a chamber, covered with plastic sheets and pressed with weights. The bottom of the chamber is perforated to allow for draining before being left to ferment for 6-12 months.

Soidon
Entire tips of bamboo shoots are submerged in water in an earthen pot. Liquid from a previous batch is used as a starter. Leaves from garcinia pedunculata (an acidic tropical fruit related to purple mangosteen) are often added for extra flavour. Soidon is eaten as a curry or a pickle.

fermentation, fermented bamboo shootsEkung
Chopped bamboo shoots are packed into bamboo baskets, covered with leaves and sealed. Heavy stones are used to press excess water from the ferment. The baskets are buried in a pit in the forest. Ekung is fermented for 1-3 months. Eaten raw or with cooked dishes.

Eup
Dry fermented bamboo shoots are prepared in a similar manner to Ekung. After the fermentation process, the bamboo shoots are dried in the sun for 5 – 10 days. Eup is eaten as a side dish.

The information here only covers broad methods of fermenting bamboo shoots in India. I’ll post again when I find the simple recipes I want try. Do you have any you’d like to share? In the meantime, I can highly recommend books on fermentation by Sandor Katz. There are heaps of other books about fermenting on Amazon and eBay, as well as a good range of fermenting crocks, to save you the trouble of digging a hole.

References:

Bamboo on the Internet for September, 2014 – my picks

  • bamboo shoot recipesWith bamboo shoot season getting closer in the southern hemisphere, here is a timely reminder to seek out new bamboo shoot recipes. The original caption tells us that this dish hails from the north eastern states of India. The recipe for this bamboo shoot stir is here.
  • black burger, bamboo charcoal, bambooWho could resist a black burger? Images of the Japanese Burger King wonders were all over the Internet this month. Black buns, black cheese, black ketchup. Its here because the black buns are bamboo charcoal bread.
  • Bamboo bicycles are becoming more popular. I haven’t posted any here before because of their apparent ubiquity, but the DIY version looks really interesting.

bamboo sculpture, brisbane festival, cave urban, bamboo

  • This was one of the bamboo sculptures at the Brisbane Festival this year: Brisbane Airport Light Garden, a collaboration between Tony Assness and Cave Urban. Cave Urban are now calling for expressions of interest to volunteer for the 2014/2015 Woodford Folk Festival project, “Woven Cloud”. Details, and more stunning images, are on their website. Last years project, a bamboo tunnel, was featured here.
  • BOO! is a show by French trapeze artists, CirkVOSTA using a 15 metre high mobile bamboo structure. Click here for a short but mesmerizing YouTube clip of a practice session. Or watch the longer 5 minute vid of the show. Read more here.

  • Popularity can be problematic. In Burma’s northern Shan State, the forests are disappearing. Villagers seek out bamboo shoots to smoke-dry and sell to Chinese traders.  The pressures on the environment are two-fold: the foragers are taking potentially unsustainable numbers of bamboo shoots and, huge amounts of timber are needed to feed the smokehouse fires. Full story and video clip here.
  • Bamboo memory foam pillows. They’re new to me. The claims are marvellous: life span of 10 years; dust mite resistant; hypoallergenic; anti-microbial; and, machine washable…  Amazon have them and they rate 4.3 stars out of 5, but they don’t ship to Australia. eBay au had some at the time of writing.

Bamboo compost bin

After the inspirational  and motivational inaugural Bamboo Sculpture Competition in Mullumbimby recently, I got to thinking about how to use bamboo to age my current compost bin contents. I trawled through endless Google images seeking my simple solution. And it really was simple. The image to the left is what I based my compost aging bin on.

bamboo compost bins, bamboo

The original inspiration – simplicity itself

bamboo compost bin, bamboo

My version, replete with compost

First I set some bamboo stakes in a square to guide my stack and keep it more or less square. Then, I harvested several small culms of obvious age. The design I had in mind only had small gaps between the rails, so the compost would stay inside. The harvested culms were then sawed to length, and I started stacking – with a bit of tie-wire here and there to hold things together as I went. I’m rather pleased with the result.

bamboo compost bins, bambooMy research also took me to Amazon and eBay. I was surprised to discover some very sexy bamboo compost bins (pails, for some) – the ones that live in your kitchen, before the contents make the trip to the outside bin. The research also provided another revelation – bamboo charcoal deodorisers for compost bins. (I lead a sheltered life). Who leaves their compost in the kitchen that long?

 

Bamboo on the Internet for August, 2014 – my picks

Date Claimers for September

bamboo sculptureThere are two important bamboo events on the east coast of Australia next month. One I’ve mentioned before is the bamboo sculpture competition in the delightful northern NSW town of Mullumbimby. 6-7 September at the Mullumbimby Community Gardens. The Echo recently ran a story on the competition. Maybe I’ll see you there.

bamboo events, Big Australian Bamboo Annual EventTwo weeks later, in Bellingen, on the mid north coast of NSW, is the Big Australian Bamboo Annual Event. The program offers workshops, tours, and social events in beautiful Bellingen. You could learn some new construction techniques, more about maintaining and propagating bamboo, and attend the social events.

Other notable posts about bamboo for the month:

  • library-cardBamboo library cards – for that extremely rare entity, the well-funded library. Although the library says they are only slightly more expensive than plastic cards. Perhaps we could all make the suggestion to our libraries and institutions that are keen to demonstrate their green credentials.
  • You’re probably already aware of bamboo knitting needles and bamboo crochet hooks, but what about bamboo yarn? The Craftsy blog published a post this month extolling the virtues of bamboo yarn. Amazon has a range of bamboo yarn. Some is viscose made from bamboo, and some are blends of bamboo and silk or bamboo and cotton. eBay au has quite a different range of bamboo yarn, including some bamboo-wool blends (Australian Marino, of course). If the bamboo knitting needles or crochet hooks you want on Amazon will not ship to Australia, eBay have some too.

bamboo construction, Neelam Manjunath

          • Indian architect Neelam Namjunath is a strong advocate for the use of bamboo in construction. Read more about her work and philosophy here.childcentre
          • More bamboo architecture:  DesignBoom featured a childhood centre in Columbia emphasising bamboo…

“…as a way of re-valuing local traditions in a contemporary manner [that] speaks of the need to use local elements as well as preserve the nearby riverbeds.”

There’s more interior and exterior photos, and a walk-through video clip on the DesignBoom website.

bamboo beer

  • More bamboo beer: A young Mexican entrepreneur, recipient of a Chinese Ministry of Commerce scholarship, returned from his 2 months in China with the idea to brew beer from bamboo. The beer is described as “a brown Ale beer (highly fermented), refreshing, spicy, fruity and herbal final flavour, with six degrees of alcohol and a thick foam.” Read more here.

Activated Bamboo Carbon

Activated carbon, also called activated charcoal, activated coal, or carbo activatus, is a form of carbon processed to have small, low-volume pores that increase the surface area available for adsorption.” 

activated carbon, activated bamboo charcoalHmmm, so? Bamboo is just one material used to make activated carbon. Activated carbon has special qualities over plain old charcoal. Adsorption is the key here. Adsorption is the binding of molecules or particles to a surface, as distinguished from absorption, the filling of pores in a solid. Activating carbon gives it high degree of microporosity, increasing the surface area so just one gram of activated carbon has a surface area in excess of 500 m2.

Activated carbon has many industrial applications, but probably the best known use is medical. The adsorptive qualities can treat some poisonings and overdoses. It’s so important that it appears on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. For everyday personal use the list of activated bamboo charcoal is extensive: odours, soap, humidity, water filtration, baking, face masks, indigestion, toothpaste, insoles for shoes….

The list of products on Amazon goes on for pages, (but not every item will ship to Australia). Ebay au has a smaller but still diverse range of activated bamboo charcoal products. The most popular products seem to be the air freshening/odour absorbing ones. There is range that comes wrapped in hemp bags – much more attractive than the plain black bag I picked up at the Bamboo Festival. There are some pretty ones on eBay au though, as well as some disguised as dogs. Maybe stuffed dogs in the back windows of cars are really there for a purpose?

The most interesting looking product, I think, is the food-grade powder. Or maybe the tooth and gum powder. With the powder on hand, you could make your bamboo charcoal soap, use it to make bamboo charcoal bread, treat indigestion and certain poisoning events, or whatever you can think of.

In case you are wondering, activated carbon is usually made from charcoal and, increasingly, high-porosity biochar, both of which can be produced with mature bamboo. Two different processes may be used: physical reactivation and chemical activation. There is a Wikipedia entry that explains the processes.

Reference list:
Activated carbon
Adsorption

Bamboo and anions

anions, negative ions, bamboo anionsAfter the fabulous bamboo lunch one fine weekend in Chiba, the diner owner suggested we visit a bamboo forest nearby. He said a doctor from a local private hospital recommends that his patients take a wander through a bamboo forest, particularly those who cannot get a positive diagnosis for their ills. The negative ions, anions, produced in a bamboo forest are said to be beneficial for health. It is a very popular notion in Taiwan too. For example, the Lemidi Hotel at Xitou, Taiwan, uses the nearby bamboo forest as a selling point:

The hotel is rich in anion as high as 7,000 units and can help metabolism, elimination of fatigue, soothe and calm emotions; the anions and rhythm of pleasure result in the most valuable medicine. While you are at it, you will feel more youthful and marvel at the wonders of the nature!

anions, negative ions, bambo o anionsThe bamboo forest at Damyang certainly makes a big deal about it too. At the small stone cottage that serves as the ticket office, there is a large LED display to tell the freshly arrived, among other things, the temperature, the humidity, and the anion measurement. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now anions are crossing my radar in the most surprising places and products. A quick Google search reveals websites extolling the virtues of the anions present in bamboo charcoal for bed sheets, sanitary pads, yarn, health-caring quilts, bamboo charcoal soap…. and that’s just the first page.

anions, negative ions, bamboo anionsWe walked in a bamboo forest after our marvellous bamboo lunch, as recommended by the owner of the roadside diner. It is a lovely place, beside a small established dam. This bamboo forest lacked the crowds and well-trodden paths of Juknokwon and Arashiyama. It was an abandoned commercial forest by the look of it. There were a few decrepit shacks, an old kiln, and a general atmosphere of damp decay.

anions, negative ions, bamboo anionsOn arriving at our next stop I noticed a slight squelchy feeling between my toes. Thinking there was some mud there, shoes were removed for inspection. Not mud. Leeches, from the bamboo forest.

The forsaken outhouse, pictured on the left, now features its own built-in bamboo hand-rail, for assisting that rise from the squat.