In Russia mushrooms have been used as food since ancient times. Mushrooms were used to cook a variety of dishes, and picking mushrooms turned into a real ritual.
Mushroom picking in Russia is a real ritual, and for some – even a sport. Mushrooms are picked in large quantities, pickled, salted and stored for several months. From generation to generation in many families mushroom recipes and secret mushroomplaces are passed down.
Mushrooms – the Best Food During Lent
The role of mushrooms in the diet became more important more than a thousand years ago with the adoption of Christianity in Russia. There are 200 lent days in a year, during which you cannot consume food of animal origin. At this time, the entire population of Russia ate mushrooms.
According to Russian traditions you need to pick mushrooms early in the morning until the sun’s rays have not yet warmed their hats. This ensures a longer storage period for mushrooms. Mushrooms picked late get quickly covered with slime and get bad. Within a short time after they were picked, you cannot eat them.
Going into the woods, you need to choose a suitable container for the mushrooms. It is best to use wooden boxes or baskets. One container should not hold more than 2-3 kg of mushrooms.
Mushrooms are selected very carefully. If a mushroom is wet, it is considered damaged or too old. Such mushrooms were discarded as they may contain harmful substances, which can lead to food poisoning.
If mushroom pickers cut a wormy or rotten mushroom, such mushroom was not thrown to the ground. The hat of that mushroom was cut off and stuck on a tree branch. The hat would eventually dry up, and the wind will scatter mushroom spores. That is how the fertility of a secret place was maintained.
The most suitable places for mushroom picking are considered birch forests. If the summer is dry, then you would look for mushrooms closer to the tree trunks, if it was wet – a little further out.
There are plenty of traditions, omens and customs associated with mushrooms: they all make sure that people got more food, and nature didn’t’ suffer irreparable damage. Only such balance is able to ensure that humans and mushrooms still coexist.
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