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Bamboo shoots are young bamboo trees that don't have a hard exterior yet. The leaves are dark and hairy which cover the white meat inside. When harvested the bamboo shoot leaves are peeled off and the white meat that is left is used.
You can often find bamboo shoots sold in the Asian food section at the grocery store. They come in a small can, when opened you will find thinly sliced rectangles in water. If you venture out to an Asian food market you can often find this fresh (pre-boiled), this variety will be long and stringy. The later will have much more flavor. The kind in the can won't have much flavor at all but will add a nice crunchiness to a stir fry.
For the fresh boiled variety: These bamboo shoots can last in your refrigerator for many weeks before going bad.