Smoking is a process whereby processed foods are subjected to the heat and chemical compounds contained in the smoke from the burning of wood, usually hardwood (sometimes with the addition of, for example, juniper). It brought about a reduction in the water content of the product, as well as chemical changes that prolong its shelf life. Traditional smoking fulfils two essential tasks: it is responsible for the heat treatment and imparts a specific aroma, as well as colour.
Smoked products from Małopolska
- Cured meats – dozens of types of traditional hams, sausages and smoked meats could not do without a smoky aroma. Smoking is an essential stage in their production. Lisiecka, Piaszczańska, Małopolska or Wiejska sausage would not taste the same...
- Cheeses – oscypek and its smaller relative redykołka owe their extraordinary taste, aroma and colour to many hours of smoking in mountain shelters.
- Suska Sechlońska – a plum, without which it is difficult to imagine Christmas Eve dishes, is in fact not dried, but its preparation is more akin to slow smoking in special drying chambers, hence the name.
- Fish – Zator carp and Ojców trout perfectly match the smoky aroma of smoking.
Not only does this process allow products to be stored for a long time, but it also changes their composition. Thanks to pickling, bacteria that are extremely useful for the functioning of our intestines multiply. Due to this process, the sugars contained in plant cells are broken down into lactic acid. This, in turn, inhibits undesirable processes caused by putrefactive bacteria, moulds and yeasts. It results in pickles that do not spoil. Salt and water in the right proportions can work wonders. You can pickle almost all vegetables, even fruit or mushrooms! By following the rules of proper pickling, you can be sure to receive tasty and healthy products.
- Sauerkraut – sauerkraut, especially that from Charsznica, has reigned supreme on Małopolska tables for centuries. It is tasty and crunchy and an ingredient in many traditional dishes.
- Cucumbers – in the Tarnów and Zakliczyn area, cucumbers were pickled in a well. Wooden barrels were filled with cucumbers, dill and horseradish and then immersed in water – first in a pond, then in a well.
- Pickled saffron milk cap mushrooms from Uście Gorlickie – saffron milk cap mushrooms have been pickled in the Low Beskids for centuries. The unique delicacy is made according to an old recipe handed down by successive generations of local mushroom picklers.
This preservation technique has been used for centuries. It applies appropriately adjusted heating of foodstuffs to destroy microorganisms without altering their taste or reducing their nutritional value. Undoubtedly, pasteurisation is associated with home preparation of preserves, but it is not only these that are pasteurised. Freshly pressed traditional juices are preserved in this way.
- Łososina apple pressed juice – naturally squeezed juice retains its unique flavour thanks to short pasteurisation with no water or other additives.
- Traditional marmalades, preserves and jams retain the flavours of summer thanks to pasteurisation.
Drying is the slow loss of much of the water. We can use dried products in our kitchen much longer than fresh ones. Almost everything can be dried: vegetables, fruit, mushrooms, grains and even meat. Małopolska cuisine is not lacking in traditional dried specialities.
- Dried fruit – susorki iwkowskie and Łukowica plum are wonderful and aromatic Małopolska fruit, which can also be enjoyed in winter.
- Beans - the Piękny Jaś bean from the Dunajec Valley or the 'patriotic' eagle bean delight the palate in winter precisely because the beans are dried and soaked in the portions necessary for preparing the dish.
- Sausages – the famous dried Kraków sausage also owes its taste, texture and durability to drying. It is first smoked then roasted and finally dried.
Meat and fish were also frequently preserved in salt, a natural preservative and a natural treasure of Małopolska. On more than one occasion, salt from Wieliczka and Bochnia was used to conserve food. You can also reach for it.
If you haven't yet filled your home larder to the brim, explore Małopolska and look for naturally preserved food. It will taste delicious in winter – guaranteed!