Use a brush to clean the mushrooms, cut them into thick slices and spread on a baking tray to bake at a low temperature (35–50°C) for about an hour. Allow the mushrooms to cool at room temperature, place in an airtight container, and store in a cool, dark place.
Pickling is a common preservation technique. Start by gently boiling a brine of water, vinegar and salt. Pour this into a sterilised jar with preferred vegetables, such as cucumbers. For an extra kick, add garlic, horseradish and whole dill stems. Seal the jar and leave for several weeks to ferment.
Herbs and spices are used frequently in Polish cooking. Key dry ingredients to keep on hand include paprika, caraway, cloves, poppy seeds and bay leaves.
Alternatives to herring
While fresh European herring is a popular ingredient in Polish cuisine, it is not available in Australia. Alternatives include imported pickled herring or Australian Herring, which, while unrelated to European herring, is a suitable alternative.
Many of Poland’s religious holidays involve long observed fasts, including Easter and Christmas. Christmas Eve is a day of fasting, which is broken by a dinner called the Wigilia. Traditionally, this special meal is not eaten until a member of the family, usually a child, spots the first evening star in the winter sky.