Truffles in Polish forests!

Text and photos: Anna Plaszczyk

15 August 2021

ruffle, the most expensive and the most desired mushrooms in the world, has its Polish analogue. Piestrak (Choiromyces maeandriformis) is just as tasty, although slightly less aromatic than its Piedmonts analogue. It has, however, an advantage – it can be found in Polish forests!

We are in the middle of autumn, this season forests are full of mushrooms. Everyone can find his/her favourite "gifts of the forest". Boletus edible, Boletus luridiformis, Birch bolete, bay bolete, Red pine mushroom, parasol mushroom - autumn 2013 offers a wide range of mushrooms almost all over Poland. However, finding truffles is almost impossible.White truffles have been found in the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland near Częstochowa by the scientists from Łódź. This place is strictly protected, and its location - kept in great secrecy. It is no secret that truffles have been found in the stomachs of the bank voles from Ojców. However, in this case, even the researchers failed to find truffles.

Truffles are difficult to find, since they produce underground spores. They grow in the neighbourhood of the deciduous trees and their taste depends on the species of the trees which form mycorrhizae with them. They are so flavourful that there are not meals by themselves, but they are used as a food additive.It is much easier, but still it is really extremely difficult to find Piestrak in Poland. Piestrak is a fungus of the Tuberaceae family. Unfortunately fruiting bodies grow under the ground. Therefore it is so difficult to find them! Their shape resembles a slightly mutated potato. Fruiting body is very characteristic when you cut it. First of all - the smell of the truffles hit us - a beautiful, sweet and aromatic. Piestrak just smells like chocolates! Sliced Piestrak has clear lines, like the fat of ham or loin, or - a labyrinth.

Where to find Piestrak? All sources indicate that in the Carpathian region. There are reports from past few years from Zakopane, Nowy Sącz, and Żywiec Beskidzki. But the exact location is known only by those who found Piestrak. Any mushrooms hunter does not share such knowledge with anybody.And what if we find the Piestrak? You should definitely look carefully at fungus. There are cases where inexperienced mushroom pickers mistake Piestrak with poisonous Scleroderma (common earthball). Scleroderma also smells like truffles, but there is no structure like veins in the middle of it. Piestrak can be dried in thin slices and then can be used as a spice e.g. for pasta. Clarified butter can preserve the flavour of the Piestrak even better. It has to be chopped into small pieces and then fried with the butter. Next it should be put in small jars, such as those from the wasabi and it should be pasteurized 20 minutes. Store it in the refrigerator.