Fruit vitamin bombs
The forest fruit season is coming to an end, there are no more wild strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. However, this doesn’t mean that delicious and healthy treats can’t be found during forest hikes. The popular rowan, for example, isn’t edible raw, but when frozen and then cooked, it loses its bitter taste and poisonous properties. It then releases a whole spectrum of beneficial vitamins, including huge amounts of immunity-boosting vitamin C and carotene. It tastes ideal with meats, in the form of jam, as an infusion or as an ingredient in liqueurs and other liquors. Autumn is also the ideal time to harvest elderberries. Elderberry is considered to be one of the oldest-known medicinal plants. It contains plenty of vitamins and minerals. If in spring you fell in love with the aromatic syrups made from the flowers of this plant, now is the time to harvest its fruit. It’s important to pick only ripe fruit; unripe fruit contain poisonous substances. Elderberry preparations effectively inhibit the proliferation of bacteria and viruses in our body, show analgesic properties, and increase the body’s immunity as well as help during colds and flu in getting back in shape. Elderberries are ideal for juices, syrups, preserves and jams as well as fruit wine and liqueurs. In the Małopolska region, particularly in the wooded areas of its eastern part, you can also find dogberry. This is another somewhat forgotten Polish superfood. Its charming red fruit pleases not only the eye but also the palate. Thanks to their huge amount of iron, dogberry supports the treatment of anaemia. It’s also another natural ally in the fight for better immunity. Dogberries are also used for stomach ailments as they have anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. They are used to make juices, jams and liqueurs; in a salty marinade, they can also be used as an alternative to Greek olives. When walking in the forest in autumn, don’t forget about the wild hazelnut tree; among its branches, you can easily spot crunchy and energising nuts, which will strengthen you during your walk.
However, there is no doubt that mushrooms are the true kings of the forest. Mushroom hunting is almost our national sport. We walk in masses through the forest complexes with our baskets. In the State Forests, you can collect mushrooms boldly without any fees. This isn’t so obvious, as in many countries fees are charged for personal use of the gifts of the forest undergrowth. However, remember that mushrooms can’t be picked in protected areas, i.e., nature reserves and national parks! Foresters also urge people to not disturb large, old mushroom fruiting bodies, to leave them in the ground: they are of no use in the kitchen but are important for fungal growth. And if we know a mushroom is rare and dying, let’s spare it, even if it’s edible. We should also remember to cut out the fruiting bodies themselves and not to destroy the mycelium that remains underground. When left under the mulch, it’ll have a chance to develop into further fruiting bodies. In October and November, in the forests of the Małopolska region, you’ll come across bay boletes, chanterelles, buttermilks, gooseberries, black sap mushrooms and saffron milk cups. Boletus and birch boletes may also occur, but these are more likely to be found in the woods in late summer. However, it’s important to only pick mushrooms that we know well and have no doubts about their genre. A pocket atlas of mushrooms can be useful, especially if you find yourself in a place with poor telephone coverage and no internet access during your trip.
How to prepare for mushroom hunting?
When we go mushroom hunting, it’s worth remembering a few important rules:
• First, the right clothing, i.e., suited to the weather, covering our whole body. This can protect us from attack by sneaky insects.
• Take a handy map with you. Mobile phone coverage is not always available in the wild.
• A basket and a knife will surely prove useful as well. In plastic bags mushrooms can get destroyed.
• Don’t destroy inedible and poisonous mushrooms, they have their role in nature as well.
• A small meal and a drink held in the backpack will help replenish your energy supply during a longer forest walk.
• Mushrooms are best picked in the morning.
• And once again, the most important thing: don’t pick mushrooms you don’t know.
Where to go mushroom hunting in the Małopolska region?
The availability of fungi depends on many factors, including litter moisture and temperature, and can vary from year to year. We will suggest where you can always venture in search of these aromatic treasures of autumn.
In and around Krakow
If you set out for mushroom hunting from Kraków, whichever direction you go, you will find a forest worth strolling through and straining your eyes in search of mushrooms. You won’t be disappointed by the Zabierzów Forests, the Będkowska Valley, the Niepołomice Forest, the surroundings of Myślenice, Sułkowice, Lanckorona and also Krzeszowice.
Tarnów and its surroundings
Places for mushroom pickers can be found also in the Tarnów region, above all in the Tuchów area. These forests are scattered within a radius of several kilometres from Tarnów. You can find mushrooms in Piotrkowice, Jodłówka Tuchowska, Burzyn or Ryglice. It’s worth recalling that the largest mushroom in the world was found in Piotrkowice. The Wierzchosławice-Radłów Forests, the area around Uszwia, Zakliczyn and Żukowice are famous for their abundance of mushrooms.
You can successfully search for mushroom treasures in the forests of the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland. It’s well worth taking a stroll there in the beautiful natural surroundings. You can also fill your basket in the area of: Bukowno, Lgota, Chełmek, Klecza, Trzebinia, Zederman, Gorenice, Gromec, Myślachowice, Kosmolow, Biskupi Bór.
Vicinity of Nowy Sącz
Mushroom pickers often choose the forests of the Low Beskids, Island Beskids nad Beskid Sądecki. You can set off along forest paths in the vicinity of Mszana Dolna, Żmiąca, Jesienna, Bartkowa Posadowa, Grybów, Słopnice, the picturesque Gródek nad Dunajcem and Uście Gorlickie.
In addition to protected areas, it’s worth visiting the Gorce forests and patches of the Beskid Żywiecki and the area around Babia Góra. The Zawoja area is said to be abundant in ceps this year.
Take a walk and catch the autumn sunshine. We invite you to join us on our forest walks in the Małopolska region and wish you a successful mushroom picking.