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Mushroom picking, the Czech national sport

Jana Fikotová
09.Oct 2017
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2 minutes
Mushrooms are everywhere

Gone are the times when people said that ‘every Czech is a musician’. Today, the phrase ‘ever Czech is a mushroom picker’ is more appropriate. And although it’s October already, the mushrooms keep growing and growing. 

Mushrooms even grow in Prague

If we want our baskets to stay full of luxurious mushrooms for a while longer, we have to wait for sunshine and regeneration of the mycelium following steady rainfall. Many people gather mushrooms in forests far from Prague, but they may not know that mushrooms can normally be collected in the capital all year round. There are a number of locations in Prague to choose from, such as the Hvězda forest park, Stromovka, Strahov, Klánovické lesy, Šárka Valley and dozens of other interesting places, where the most common types of mushrooms corresponding to the location of the site and character of the vegetation grown. You can find luxurious edible porcini, umbrella mushrooms, champignons, the fatal green toadstool and the protected summer truffle. The Czech mycological society has been researching Prague’s mycoflora for many years, and has registered hundreds of finds of various mushrooms. Collectors bring many mushrooms for designation to the traditional mushroom advice centre in Karmelitská 14. 

Most popular mushrooming spots outside of Prague

Just get in the car or on a bus or train, and make mushrooming into a luxurious outing. He most common places for collecting mushrooms among Prague citizens are Brdy and the areas around Příbram, Pilsen and Křivoklát. The visitation rate to forest in the Central Bohemian region I on average much higher than in the other regions.

Prodej luxusního bytu s terasou, Praha 1
Prodej luxusního bytu s terasou, Praha 1, Praha 1

Not just mushrooms in the forest

The most commonly collected forest fruits, apart from mushrooms, are blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. However, the number of collectors declines every year. 68% of people collect mushrooms, 43% collect blueberries, 35% raspberries and 31% blackberries. Last year, mushroom hunters gathered 21,900 tonnes of mushrooms worth CZK 3.59 billion, 7,200 tonnes of blueberries worth CZK 851 million, 1,600 tonnes of raspberries worth CZK 237 million and the same quantity of blackberries worth CZK 219 million. 

National sport 

Mushrooms still grow in October, and people are bringing home baskets full of luxurious porcini, umbrella mushrooms and other edible varieties. Mushroom hunting has a long tradition in Bohemia and is a sort of national sport. Mushrooms used to substitute expensive meat in poorer families, but now they are a luxurious addition to the diet .Mushrooms recipes appear in cookbooks from the First Republic, but they find many uses in modern gastronomy. Mushrooms are most often fried like schnitzel, sautéed with caraway seeds, scrambled with eggs, added to meat or pickled in vinegar.

App for the forest

Nowadays, you can head to the forest with an app that amateur IT fans named Na houby. Using an optical resolution function, it can directly determine which mushroom you have just collected. However, it is only an experimental version, and mushroom collectors should not rely on it entirely. The advantage is that the recognition function works in offline mode, meaning that the application can even be used in deep forests when internet coverage often does not exist. 

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