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    Mushroom picking as the national tradition

    At least 20 million kilograms – so many edible mushrooms await us every year in the Polish forests. If every adult Pole went for mushroom picking (also referred to as mushroom foraging – editor’s note), they would have a chance to find several species of mushrooms in the forest thicket. Unlike in many countries in Poland, this is possible because most of our forests are state-owned. Thanks to this we all have free access to them, we can also use the gifts of the forest undergrowth without restrictions.

    Mushroom foraging is a centuries-old Polish tradition and at the same time a great family entertainment and relaxing form of entertainment in nature. Without mushrooms, it is impossible to imagine our kitchen, and yet how much better the handpicked and prepared ones taste. The State Forests invite all lovers of palate pleasure and healthy recreation to our typical forests, stunning at this time of year.

     

    Poles who settle abroad are often surprised by the lack of habit of picking mushrooms and their low availability. This is partly due to the dominant private ownership in forests, which limits access to them, and regulations. In many countries, such as Germany or the United Kingdom, a single person can only harvest a certain number of mushrooms (up to 1.5-2 kg/ 53-70.5 oz). In Belgium or the Netherlands, their collection is prohibited in most regions or the whole country. In addition to quantitative limits, there are also temporary limits, as in Austria. In France, even for mushroom picking in public forests, you have to pay a lot of money, and you can keep the fruiting bodies only for your own use.

     

     

    Mushrooms are our tradition, a whole cultural phenomenon and an element of our identity. More than 450 years ago, the view of mushrooms drying in the larder was commented on in the autumn by a kind-hearted landowner Mikołaj Rej. “The ladies are chasing the slender boletus, whose song calls it mushrooms’ colonel” – this is a fragment of a well-known description of mushroom picking as social entertainment in “Pan Tadeusz” by Adam Mickiewicz. 

     

    Today, for many people, it is an excellent way of spending free time with family and friends, integrating all generations. For others, collecting and selling mushrooms is also a job and a way to supplement their home budgets. All of them share a passion for mushroom taste: dried, marinated, stewed or fried are indispensable ingredients of typical dishes in our kitchen.

     

     

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