5 Food Tips From Poland

Originally posted on Eat.Drink.Better. on July 28, 2009.

I’ve been living in Poland for ten months now. When I first got here, a few food ideas stood out to me that I thought were cool. After ten months, I have picked up a couple more as well. Hope you enjoy the food tips Poland has to share.

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Top 5 Food Tips from Poland.

#5: Freeze Your Herbs

When herbs are fresh, you can chop them, put them in the freezer, and save them for any time of year. This saves you having to buy packaged herbs and is quite simple and convenient.

#4: Dry Your Own Fruits and Vegetables, and Fungi!

It is very common in Poland to dry produce. The most common is probably mushrooms! Nearly all Polish people go ‘mushroom hunting’ in the late Summer and in Fall. They collect buckets of mushrooms in forests. I thought it was a unique, special thing when I went mushroom hunting with my partner’s family (while learning how to count in Polish — it was good practice), but when we went to the train station after the weekend to go home, nearly every person there had a bucket or more of mushrooms! You can’t eat that many mushrooms at once, of course, so people often put them in vinegar and save them like that (in boiled jars). However, they also dry them in the sun, in the oven, or by the fireplace. They have jars of them for all year long then. You can also dry other fruits and vegetables in this manner — tomatoes, bananas, apples, apricots, plums, grapes, etc. Ever buy those from the store? Dry your own. It’s fun and easy.

#3: Homemade Pickles

A famous trademark of Poland, homemade pickles aren’t so hard to make. Put some cucumbers in a jar with garlic, horseradish, and whole dill stems. Then, put cooled water that you have boiled in the jar with salt. Put a cap or a cloth tied with rubber band on the jar and let it sit until the cucumbers ferment (a few weeks normally). Delicious and actually exported all over the world by Poland. I am eating one now! (Important: the cucumbers need to be freshly harvested, because they have yeast cells on them that make the cucumbers ferment and these yeast cells are often removed through commercial harvesting and packing processes)

#2: Kompot

Made mostly of fruits you probably wouldn’t eat (bruised fruit, leftovers, older fruit, etc.), this is a delicious homemade ‘juice’. Kompot is basically juice, but it is lighter and has a distinct taste. It tastes homemade and just a little bit special. Fruits which are commonly used are: apricots, plums, cherries, strawberries, peaches, pears, and apples. In summertime, or when these fruits are in season, people buy tons of them and make kompot for the whole year. How do you make kompot? Boil water, add fruits and sugar, and then let them cool for awhile. If you want them for the whole year, you must put them in jars and then boil the jars in water to seal them. This is an extremely popular drink. As my Polish partner says, “There is kompot on every table in every Polish home on Sunday.” They have it with dinner then and other days of the week as well.

#1: Berries in Syrup

Put berries (blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries) and a little sugar in jars, boil the jars in water (as above) to seal them, and you have a delicacy for all kinds of meals. The berries remain whole but also a lot of the juice comes out and you have berries in their own syrup. These can be put on pancakes, in cereal, oatmeal, pudding, even in rice. Of course, they are great with ice cream as well! This is truly my favorite ingredient in cereal and on pancakes now. The berries can also be put in tea during the winter as a form of medicine for colds (since they warm the body). Of course, a great benefit again is that you have fruits for the whole year.

This all results in a big savings for your pocketbook. Also, you know what you’re eating and drinking! Enjoy these tips from Poland!

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image credit 1: rэs via flickr under a Creative Commons license
image credit 2: mike_pederson via flickr under a Creative Commons license

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~ by Zachary Shahan on January 2, 2010.

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