The mushroom is a fungus that comes in a wide range of varieties that belong to two distinct types: cultivated and wild.
In myth and folklore mushrooms have always had something of a mystical connection with elves and fairies often depicted sitting atop them (toadstools), and they are known to spring up seemingly overnight in ‘fairy rings’. On a more practical level, many mushrooms and fungi can be poisonous or hallucinogenic. If foraging in the forest, it’s important to know what you’re looking for.
Mushrooms contain immune-supporting nutrients. All types of edible mushrooms contain varying degrees of protein and fibre. They also contain B vitamins as well as a powerful antioxidant called selenium, which helps to support the immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues.
Mushroom varieties are extensive ranging from everyday white button mushrooms to costly delicacies such as forest truffles and can be bought fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.
Mushrooms are widely available in Belarus in a huge variety of species, both the edible and poisonous varieties
Most of the mushrooms are found in the Vitebsk and Minsk regions and many people pursue the collecting of mushrooms as a hobby, especially in the forests of Minsk. Foraging was a necessity in the past, with mushrooms being a free, abundant and accessible and widely available food source. Today, many people continue to enjoy foraging and delivering delicious mushroom cuisine to their tables.
All over the place, various mushrooms are picked as specialities – varieties such as aspen, boletus, honey agaric, Russia, hens, but the most commercial mushrooms are chanterelles. Thanks to this, a mushroom picker who knows the terrain can make very good money for the season.
There are many places to find these mushroom specialities if you are a local, such as; Molodi, Mostyshche, Aleshniki, Krokva, Pogrebshche and Takovshchina. Armed with a basket and someone who knows their onions – or in this case mushrooms – a day of foraging in the forests of Belarus really is something to savour. Click here to learn more.
Check out Michelle’s delicious mushroom recipes: