Cultural Musings

Collecting mushrooms! My favorite Polish hobby.

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!

a toadstool

a toadstool

Any other mushrooms you like collecting that I didn’t mention here? Give us some info about it in the comments! Happy searching!

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  • Reply Sebasian 7 November 2016 at 10:55

    Using a knife to pick up mushrooms and leaving the roots is not the only way. Some people are saying that this manner is more destructive to mycelium.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 7 November 2016 at 11:47

      Yeah? So it’s better to take out the whole thing you think?

      • Reply DJ 21 May 2021 at 18:38

        doesn’t make a bit of difference, cut or pull. It doesn’t hurt they mycelium

      • Reply Marius Z 16 April 2022 at 04:16

        We would always twist them out. Twist and pull out. The visible mushroom is just a tiny part of the mycelium. You probably still want to slice the leg, but closer to the underside of the cap. You do this to see if it’s already eaten by worms, so you don’t have to carry it around and bring it back home.

  • Reply Basia 7 November 2016 at 10:56

    Once when I was on a family trip in Szczyrk my sister found a big, beautiful prawdziwek. Everyone on the streets was admiring it, saying how big and nice it was. Later on, when she got home she wanted to slice it into smaller pieces so it could have dried, it turned out to be eaten by a snail or sth else, and she had to get rid of it 🙁

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 7 November 2016 at 11:48

      Ah! what a freaking tragedy 🙁

  • Reply WojciechT 7 November 2016 at 11:20

    Do sometimes pick Gołąbki (like pigeons or the meal), in some parts of Poland called “surojadki” (raw-edible)? There are plenty of those in our forests and some of them (like Gołąbek Cukrówka – it’s sweet!) are good to just clean up with tissue and put on a bread. Or fry with eggs 🙂 The problem is that there are many types of those and some of them are a little bit poisonous (nothing serious, just trots or in worst case vomits). But most of them are OK to eat 🙂

    • Reply WojciechT 7 November 2016 at 11:20

      * Do you

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 7 November 2016 at 11:50

      Hm I’m never heard of those! I have to check them out.

  • Reply Darjusz 7 November 2016 at 11:38

    Check out for more of mushroom goodies. It’s like our national treasure. Picking mushrooms bound generations and also is a good excuse for having a walk when you don’t like to solely walk without a reason. Shame that in some woods you can easier find a pile of junk instead of any mushroom. Have you seen any of that, Leah? I tend to take two bags while on mushrooms, one for actual shrooms and the second one for the garbage. Where’s this world heading…?

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 7 November 2016 at 11:51

      Yeah I know what you mean. There is a lot of garbage in the forest – even in the really deep forest. It’s really sad. It’s the same in the mountains too :/

  • Reply Sara 7 November 2016 at 12:33

    We went for a walk to a forest with my parents and my dad said “no shrooming” (although he’s always the first one to go shrooming. As we walked into the forest my mom said “oh look, opieńki” (I think they’re a bit similar to kania, but smaller). My dad walked up to where mom was standing, look at the shrooms, looked around and said “I have a bag, so you can start picking”. Obviously he came prepared, haha, and we picked a whole big bag of opieńki! The next day he came back home with another bag full of shrooms, because “he couldn’t just let them stay in the forest”.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 7 November 2016 at 19:29

      Haha your dad is kinda awesome 🙂 My husband and his dad are way into shrooming and every time we go into the woods my husband always says “come on, prawdziwki. just one nice prawdziwek”. I think they’d get along well 🙂

  • Reply Piotr 7 November 2016 at 16:41

    Picking mushrooms is definitely one of typically Polish tradition. As you said, it`s completely unknown in the States but Europeans from the West don`t know it either. I used to collect mushrooms when I was young. However, I`m not doing it now because there aren`t too many woods near my city, I see mainly parks there. If I wanted to get something from the forest, my dad`s car would be much needed. Why? Cause the nearest big green fields are located far away from the place where I live. Giving the jar of pickled mushrooms to my grandma-this would be really a great idea! But my grandmother prefers creeping flowers and watering them. She even has a small garden on her balcony and she made it on her own. She seems to be very proud of it and is very passionate. She loves solving the crosswords too. By the way, reading your blog is real pleasure for me. This is also my the best way to expand my vocabulary. This is happening because I like combining pleasant things with useful ones. If I had to learn something new without any willing and understanding, I would have forgotten it pretty quickly. Luckily, I finished the school many years ago. You are doing a great job, Leah. I hope you will never lose your inspiration and topic for your website will cross your mind as long as possible. It`s off topic, I know. However, I must have written it once again. Big kiss for you and keep going :-).

  • Reply Leah Morawiec 7 November 2016 at 19:31

    Hey Piotr 🙂 Aw thank you so much. I’m so glad you like my blog and that it helps you with your English. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I write it. I wanted people to use it as a way to learn things and practice as well. As you said, it’s the best way to remember words because just going through a vocab list is totally boring! I hope you keep coming back to read and comment! Thanks again 🙂

  • Reply Nancy Southers 16 November 2016 at 17:57

    Nice article Leah. Shrooming sounds quite fun!! Can’t wait to try the dried mushrooms very soon 🙂

  • Reply Laura Fox 19 December 2016 at 19:50

    A lot of people forage in Northern California, it is pretty common! There is even a local company in Napa that delivers foraged mushrooms to restaurants. You can find chanterelles, morels, and porcini at the local grocery stores as well, although they are always very expensive!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 19 December 2016 at 20:18

      We would gladly provide you with plenty of wild foraged mushrooms – probably much cheaper than there 🙂

  • Reply Matthew Olsen 31 October 2020 at 15:20

    One of the most important and long lasting memories took place when I could barely walk. They were the moments in which my Grandfather(from Poland) would take me mushroom hunting in the Chicagoland area forests. He taught me how to identify edible honey mushrooms from non edible types, his method was by smell, where to find hen of the woods, chicken of the woods, chantrelles, etc. He had passed away when I was in the 6th grade(age 11 or 12) although my love for mushroom huntin only grew exponentially the older I got. I’m not 38, have a gigantic log of GPS coordinates of my “honey holes”, have increased my knowledge to that in which he’d be extremely proud of. I wish I could show him the pictures of some of my best finds as I believe it would make him very proud. He had always used to refer to a story about finding the biggest patch of mushrooms he’d every found on the day that my sister was born. Needless to say our family cherished our Polish heritage especially through mushroom hunting. In fact, it’s this skill that he planted in me that , at one of the toughest times in my life, became a source of income when I had no other means to support myself. I sold mushrooms to restaurants in the city. If I hadn’t had this skill I don’t know what I would’ve done. Also, during extremely troubling times when I struggled with depression/anxiety I believe that being in the woods looking for mushrooms was a better form of therapy than any other you could pay for. Anyways, I believe that mushroom hunting can be more than just a simple hobby. Thanks for reading my little story about the importance that mushroom hunting has played in my life.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 31 October 2020 at 18:56

      Hi Matthew!! That’s such an amazing story and so cool that your grandfather passed on his knowledge to you. That’s what I love about foraging because it gives you such great feelings and it’s something you can do with kids as well. My son loves finding mushrooms too! I’m glad he shares in our excitement 🙂

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