Flavours of late summer – enjoy the journey!
An abundance of flavours distinguishes late summer in Małopolska. Many vegetables and fruits are ripening and acquiring colour. A trip to your local market is one easy way to indulge in seasonal delicacies. We will suggest what to choose and what delicious treats you should spoil yourself with at this time of year.
From the orchard
At the end of August and September, orchards begin to shimmer with all their colours. Apples, plums and pears take on their proper colours and blushes. When we travel through the Tarnów and Nowy Sącz Regions, they tempt us to stop at one of the numerous orchards to buy fresh fruit straight from a farmer. If you are lucky, the farmer might even let you pick them yourself. This appears to be a real travelling attraction. Ripe Małopolska fruit is also processed into delicious local products to enjoy out of season. Drying and smoking fruit in smokehouses fired with the wood of deciduous hardwoods and fruit trees is a unique tradition in the region. The recipe for preparing the nationally famous suska sechlońska (plums with stones dried and smoked, slightly sweet with a discernible smoky aftertaste and aroma) and susorki iwkowskie (a mixture of fruit such as plums, apples, and pears) dried and smoked using the traditional method) is a real culinary treasure from Małopolska. The exceptionally aromatic, soft and almost creamy fruit can be stored for a long time to prepare Christmas Eve compote, and the traditional polywka, a daily drink of dried fruit, is slow-cooked on the cooker for three days to acquire the proper aroma. Local housewives claim that besides its flavour, the long-cooked compote has, beneficial effects on our bodies. When served hot, it helps cure colds and digestive problems. Małopolska fruit also tastes excellent in the form of freshly-pressed juice. Many juice presses in the region offer refreshing fruit drinks. Suppose you are in the mood for delicious juice. In that case, you can visit the wineries bearing the 'Made in Małopolska' label – the Pawłowski Fruit Pressing Plant or the Chocznia Pressing Plant. When passing through the Łącko area, it is impossible to miss the Maurer Pressing Plant with its wide range of juices, fruit spirits and wines.
From the field
Pumpkin has become the unquestionable queen of Małopolska fields in late summer because of its taste, beauty, and fairly impressive size. This excellent vegetable is grown in dozens of varieties. Many fields, especially those to the north and northeast of Kraków, are radiant with intensely orange, yellow and greenish gems. Pumpkin is an ingredient in many salty and sweet dishes: soups, desserts, cakes and preserves. Recently, it has conquered our taste buds and gained a great deal of popularity. Besides the taste qualities, it is also highly decorative. It is an integral part of autumn interior and garden decorations. In the Małopolska Region, farms that showcase charming pumpkin fields and create pumpkin installations serving as a natural playground or autumn backdrop for photo shoots are opening their doors to visitors. We encourage you to visit Jedynie – the pumpkin farm in Wawrzeńczyce and the Pumpkin Farm in Szyce. In these places, you can have a great time, take a peek at how a pumpkin farm operates, and make stock up on plenty of pumpkin for your home pantry.
Małopolska farmers in the Dunajec Valley also harvest the famous Piękny Jaś bean at the end of summer. This unique Małopolska delicacy is distinguished by its large seeds, high magnesium content, sweet taste, delicate structure and texture, thin and soft skin and short cooking time. Dried beans keep well and can be used in the kitchen all year round. A trip to pick them up in the Zakliczyn area may surprise you with views of romantic mists hovering over fields and hills.
However, we must not forget the potatoes. These tasty tubers have been a staple of the Małopolska region's menu for centuries. Potatoes are grown in every nook and cranny of Małopolska because the undemanding and cooperative plant delivers good yields no matter where it is sown, even in poor, rock-filled mountain soils. Potatoes are still served in thousands of ways in the region today, and they taste best in autumn, picked straight from the field. You’ll be delighted to know that the potato even has a festival all its own, in Trzyciąż, every year!
From the forest
The mushroom-picking season began exceptionally early this year due to the heavy rainfall. The damp mulch and high temperatures favour the growth of mycelium. Almost all mushroom species can be found in the Małopolska forests – a true paradise for mushroom pickers. In some places, you can come across saffron milk caps, bay boletes, slippery jacks or ceps and in others – chanterelles, blewits or birch boletes. It is best to go mushroom picking at dawn or early in the morning when the odds are good that you’ll come out of the forest with a full basket. Remember, slippery jacks usually grow under pine trees on sandy soil, ceps in coniferous forests under spruce and fir trees, saffron milk caps in grass under pine trees in sunny places, birch boletes in birch forests, and bay boletes are quite common in mixed woodland. Learn to identify edible mushroom species before you go mushroom picking. Use reliable sources of information: books or mobile apps valuable to identify mushrooms. You had better not rely solely on entries on the Internet. If you are a beginner, go mushroom picking with someone experienced who knows about mushrooms and can identify them. Such a person can give you valuable tips and help you avoid dangerous situations. If, on the other hand, you don't know mushrooms well, look for blackberries and raspberries in the forest and then enjoy their delicious taste.