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Mushrooming- Czech passion

photo:  (sxc.hu)

For centuries, mushrooms have been a popular and often indispensible ingredient in the most exquisite cuisines around world. Their taste is unique, their caloric value is low and they are full of vitamins and minerals. They are also used in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries.

Except for a few species that are grown at farms or factories, most of the mushrooms grow in nature. Mushroom hunting and picking is very popular among Czechs. Due to their enthusiasm, they are often considered as mushroom fanatics. There is a common belief that mushrooming is a Czech national sport and that this phenomenon is unique. Czechs are also the best experts in identifying mushroom species.

The statistics imply that over seventy percent of Czechs go mushrooming at least once a year, and about one fifth of them see themselves as passionate mushroom pickers. For example in 2006, there were 8.2 kilos of picked mushrooms per one Czech family. For most people, mushrooming usually means a chance to relax and enjoy the time they can spend in the forest. 

The Czech mushrooming passion is deeply rooted in history. People have always picked mushrooms in the Czech lands. In by-gone times, mushrooms were called the meat of the poor. Markets were full of them and absolutely anyone could afford to buy them. In those olden times, picking mushrooms was an important food source. Later it developed into a free-time activity and much later it became a tradition.

The mushroom season in the Czech Republic usually begins in May and culminates in September. In the woods, Czechs usually pick only those mushroom species that they are able to identify by name. The preferred method of preservation is drying – the oldest and most natural way of mushroom storage. 

Mushrooming is also popular in the countries to the northeast of the Czech Republic (Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia). In the rest of Europe, mushrooming is not as widespread and in some places it is even forbidden. Beyond Europe, mushroom picking and growing is also quite common in Asia (China, Japan).

You can find comprehensive information about mushrooms and Czech mushrooming here.
Author: Romana Kuncová
Added: 24.09.2010

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