When and where?
If this already sounds fun to you, beware! The mushroom season is just around the corner, as many amateurs of mushroom hunting have already started visiting their local forests. Officially it should all start around September and last up until the first signs of winter. During this period, Poles take to forests, because this is where they are the easiest to find. You will meet enthusiastic pickers especially after rainfall – this is when mushrooms get bigger. We even have a saying in Poland that something grows like mushrooms after rain!
In Poland, there are over 50 edible mushroom species, but it is important to name some that are real crowd pleasers and therefore are always a big hit on a table. These would include the King Bolete, Sulphur Shelf, Saffron Milk Cup or parasol mushroom. It is very important to gather only those mushrooms that one is sure of their edibility – usually in many Polish families there is an expert who can easily name different species and indicate which mushrooms are better left out. Eating a toxic one may result in death or very serious internal injuries.
Mushroom picking etiquette
When going out for mushroom picking, it is advisable to follow some rules. Many amateurs of this pastime stress the fact that humans are intruders in forests and should leave without bringing any serious changes to the ecosystem. The suggested method of gathering mushrooms is cutting them close to the ground with a sharp knife. Another thing is covering the exposed mushroom spawn with forest cover, so as not to let it dry. Finally, even indebile and deadly fungi should be left alone, not destroyed, as they still may be useful to the forest and its inhabitants. If you head out for your first ever picking session, you will definitely learn more from your Polish expert!
And then what?
Once your mushrooms are picked, washed and cleaned, they can be pickled, dried or eaten immediately afterwards! Everyone knows that they are not too nutritious, but still they make for great pierogi stuffing, sauce ingredient and snack!
Do you have your own way of preparing them? Have you tried mushrooming outside Poland?