Grzyby! This is probably my favorite activity that I’ve picked up in Poland. It’s one of the things I love about the summer/fall time. The sheer joy when you find a large prawdziwek (or porcini) is indescribable. I love going to the forest on weekends and spending a couple hours shrooming. In Florida we don’t really pick mushrooms. It seems like the weather would be good for mushrooms but who knows if there are even edible ones there (other than hallucinogenic, which there are plenty of I’ve heard). Either way, it’s not a very popular pastime where I’m from. But in Poland it seems like every has done it at least once.
We usually dry them and our family eats them on Christmas in cabbage and soup. The only thing about mushrooms is that you need to be careful. You have to know which are which, obviously, but it’s not scary if you know what to look for. We only pick a few types of mushrooms like prawdziwki, podgrzybki, maślaki and a few others. These are pretty easy to identify and my husband is quite the expert after many years of collecting, so I rely on his knowledge (and his dad’s) to keep us safe.
So how can you know which to choose? Well here are some common types of mushrooms in Poland and how to identify them. Please don’t use my post as a guide necessarily. I don’t want anyone picking things they don’t know and getting sick! Take someone with you who knows what they’re doing!!
Prawdziwki (porcinis) – Probably the most sought after mushroom. They are characterized by a reddish-brown cap and a white stem. It’s very important to recognize the netting, not ribs or ridges, under the cap. Unfortunately these mushrooms also look a bit like others which are very bitter, so it’s important to have someone with you who can correctly identify.
Podgrzybki (boletes) – Probably the most common edible mushroom. These are typically dark brown on the top with brown stems. Under the cap there’s a yellow netting, similar to porcinis.
Kania – We don’t pick these but they’re very popular. Quite tall brownish white mushrooms with large caps. People usually make them like pork cutlets with breadcrumbs and everything. Sounds pretty good.
Kurki (chanterelles) – Mmmm kurki. These mushrooms are very characteristic. Yellow mushrooms with curly tops. Delicious in basically anything, especially pastas and scrambled eggs. I have no picture of kurki, sadly.
Maślaki – these are yellow and slimy on top. They have the netting under the cap like porcinis and boletes as well. Again I have no picture of these. If you have one, post it in the comments!
When you find a mushroom, be sure to use a knife to slice it just where the mushroom meets the earth. That way you can leave the root in the ground and it will grow into another mushroom in the future! Yay!
So now you’ve got a basket full of mushrooms which you think are good. First things, first – check yourself for ticks. There’s a good chance after strolling through the forest for a couple hours that you’ve got a couple. After that, you need to start slicing your shrooms so you can leave them out to dry. No need to wash the shrooms before slicing – you can do that when you need to use them and want to rehydrate them. For now, just get off the big pieces of dirt as well as you can and start slicing. If you can see small holes in the mushroom, it could be that it’s been eaten by small worms or slugs. “Robaczkowy” I call it. Apparently the correct term is “robaczywy” but whatever. Details. Depending on how eaten it is, you may just want to throw it out.
After that, lay the slices on baking paper or even printer paper if you have to and put them in a warm, dry place. After half a day or a whole day, turn them over so the other side can dry. You can also hang them on string, which is probably the best way to do it. Once they’ve shrivelled up to almost nothing, put them in a jar and give them to your grandma. She’ll be delighted!
Here’s a mushroom to never pick although they look pretty!
Any other mushrooms you like collecting that I didn’t mention here? Give us some info about it in the comments! Happy searching!