“Butterbur Sprouts” Tell of the Arrival of Spring
Fukinotou, or butterbur sprouts, begins to sprout all together in early spring. Fukinotou has been harvested since ancient times as early as the Jomon era. The mountain vegetable has been cultivated since the Heian era, and the slightly bitter flavor is appreciated as a taste of early spring.
This bitterness helps increase metabolism and prompt digestion. It is said that fukinotou is the first food that the bear eats after coming out from hibernation, and that this is because the vegetable promotes the elimination of waste products accumulated in the body during the winter and activates the body for spring.
The point for selecting fresh sprouts is to look for tight buds with closed leaves. A cut end that is not darkened is another point to look for. Freshly picked sprouts do not have much acrid taste but provide refreshing flavor.
On a side note, fukinotou and fuki (butterbur) come from the same plant, and the first is the bud. Fuki is the leaf grown out of the underground stem after flowers bloom.