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Mushroom Picking in Poland

Mushroom Picking in Poland

People who know me know that I adore mushrooms. I could eat different varieties of mushrooms every day and never get bored of them and so do many Poles. One might ask, what’s so special about mushrooms and why are Poles so obsessed with it? At first sight, mushrooms are just simple veggies that grow in the forest.

Wild mushrooms actually cause a lot of controversies. Americans mostly eat cultivated button mushrooms and portobellos found safely wrapped in supermarket aisles. In some states wild mushrooms are even illegal to sell!

In Poland, where I grew up, mushrooms are basic ingredients for many traditional dishes due to the popularity of mushrooming. Everyone goes mushroom picking at least once a year to collect, dry, and pickle those lovely fungi.

Here’s your guide to mushroom picking in Poland.

Me at the age of 11 after mushroom picking in the Polish forest
Me at the age of 11 after mushroom picking in the Polish forest

Foreigners are often scared of mushroom picking because they believe it’s easy to pick a poisonous one. Well, let me tell you how easily you can recognize if your mushroom can be eaten or not. Every Pole learns that fairly quickly as a child by looking at books with photos of mushrooms.

There are 47 species on the government’s list of mushrooms approved for food circulation. The most popular types include chanterelles, boletes, bay boletes, saffron milk caps, larch boletes, birch boletes and parasol mushrooms.

Every mushroom has a part under the cup called the hymenophore that’s either a lamella (striped) or tubes (flat).

Mushrooms with tubes are edible and those with lamella can be… except that it would be your last time 😉 However, if your mushroom is red with white dots, there is no reason to check because it’s a fly agaric – the most poisonous of all mushrooms.

Top: poisonous Bottom: edible
Top: poisonous
Bottom: edible

Mushroom Picking as a Family Activity

In the 7.6 million hectares supervised by State Forests, no certifications are required for recreational picking (with the exception of national parks and areas with special protections). You don’t need permission to go picking nor do you have to pay for it or need a guide.

If you’re new to it or foreign, I recommend starting foraging with someone experienced. You must get up early and drive to the forest, usually a day or two after it rained. Later in the day all the mushrooms will be gone.

Every autumn families in Poland go mushroom picking together as a family. As a child, I remember standing next to the car and waiting for my parents to bring big wicker baskets full of mushrooms to clean out of the dirty.

If you don’t find enough to satisfy you and prepare you for Christmas time, there are always people selling mushrooms along with wild blueberries on the road.

What to Do With the Wild Mushrooms Afterwards?

After a successful outing, mushrooms had to be either used over a few days, dried or pickled, which made the whole house smell nice.

The whole point, however, is to save enough for Christmas time in Poland. Mushroom soup is a traditional Christmas Eve soup and there are also pierogi and other goodies that require wild mushrooms.

The most poisonous mushroom
The most poisonous mushroom – red with white spots

Most Popular Polish Mushroom Dishes

1. Placki ziemniaczane & kluski with mushroom sauce – Chanterelle / Porcini
Placki are potato pancakes that can be served with either goulash or mushroom sauce. The best sauce is a chanterelle (kurki) sauce that takes over every dish in Poland during the summer.


2. Pierogi – traditionally with Porcini


Pierogi are well-known all over the world. Those amazing dumplings can be filled with pretty much anything, but the best combination is cabbage with onion and porcini.

3. Pickled Bay Bolete mushrooms

Pickled mushrooms are extremely popular for Christmas, therefore they have to be prepared some time in advance.

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Saturday 28th of October 2023

I really enjoyed reading your post. I never met my Grandma but my mother told she was an avid mushroom enthusiast!! She lived in Silesia as did my mom. When it comes to mushrooms there are so many kinds it's wild. Amanita is poisonous if raw...but not if prepared properly and dried. I take Amanita muscaria powder in a capsule, it can help things like PTSD and even restless leg syndrome! it has an effect of raising Gabba in the body which helps reduce stress. That's so amazing that mushrooms are such a huge part of Polish heritage and culture!

Irene Wong

Monday 7th of August 2023

Can you take us forage in krakow Sept 3

Anna Karsten

Tuesday 8th of August 2023

I don't do tours I'm afraid.


Saturday 1st of July 2023

Hi! Do you know any guides or tours happening in Poland to go mushroom foraging? Thank you for your blog it was a great to read :)


Monday 9th of October 2023

Honestly not really. Nobody in Poland would ever get a guide to go foraging, it's just something we do on our own.

Irene khin

Saturday 8th of April 2023

Hello My hubby n I will be in Warsaw and krakow any chances you can connect me with someone to do foraging in September?? Look me up Instagram .

Sevki Ergun

Sunday 11th of October 2020

Hi Anna, I am in the States yet but planning to be in the Sudecka area in Poland. Enjoyed your clues about edible mushrooms! Are you able to suggest a book to help learn the mushrooms of this area? Thank you.

Anna Karsten

Wednesday 14th of October 2020

I could suggest many I have at home, but unfortunately, these are old Polish books that haven't been translated into English. However, when you get to Poland you can pick up a local book with pictures from a bookstore :)

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