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Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446  
17 May 2008 /  #1

Fruit and Vegetable Gardening -- Poland style

Not all the ingredients used in Polish cuisine are readily available in every American supermarket, and that is particularly true of certain garden produce. Besides, it is often more convenient to pop into the garden rather than to drive to a supermarket even for those varieties commonly found in its produce department. And, there is a certain satisfaction in growing your own in your backyard vegetable patch, as the produce is fresher, mroe natural and devoid of chemcial lfie supports. Here are some suggestions.

BEETS, BEETROOTS (buraki): To make a delicious baby-beet soup called botwinka, you need the greens and immature roots of baby beets which are rarely available commercially. Growing your own will enable you to enjoy this treat early in the season and prepare all kinds of other beet dishes (buraczki, barszcz, ćwikła, etc.) when your beets mature.

CELERIAC (seler): Stalk celery has never been widely used in Polish cuisine. When Poles say seler, when mean celeriac (root-celery), but that is not always easy to find in America. That's why growing your own is a good idea for all Polish food fanciers who have their own vegetable patch. This root vegetable (that grows underground with green leaves protruding) is one of the classic ingredients of włoszczyzna (Polish soup greens). It is also prepared as a cooked vegetable in its own right, is great in mixed-vegetable salads and can even be pre-cooked and then fried like a breaded cutlet.

CHIVES (szczypiorek): These fine, subtly onion-flavored greens add flavor and color to a wide variety of dishes including: white cheese, scrambled eggs, soups, salads, sauces, fish and gravy-type dishes. Available in supermarkets, but it's more convenient to have them handy, ready to be snipped when needed.

CURRANTS (porzeczki): Currants are another berry-type fruit far better known in Poland than America. Blackcurrants have much more vitamin C than citrus fruits and are great in syrups, juices, jams and alcoholic cordials. Redcurrants are also enjoyed by many, and there are even whitecurrants.

DILL (koper): This is one of Poland's favorite herbs. Finely chopped, the fragrant feathery leaves impart an unforgettable flavor to boiled new potatoes and other vegetables, poultry stuffing, soups, sauces and fish dishes. The mature dill stalks are used to make dill pickles. Even if you don't have a vegetable garden, dill will grow along a fence, behind the garage or in other such out-of-the-way places. Some apartment-dwellers even grow it in a window or balcony flower-box.

GOOSEBERRIES (agrest): One of Poland's favorite garden berries is nowhere nearly as well known in America. They are excellent in preserves, syrups and compotes and can be used in an interesting sauce for meats. Gooseberry bushes have extremely sharp thorns and a row of them can be planted to successfully keep unwanted stray animals from wandering into unfenced property.

GREEN-GAGE PLUMS (renklody): Large, yellowish, pinkish or red plums usually meant for eating. They are also used in jams and other preserves.

GREEN/SPRING ONIONS (dymka, szczypior): Chopped green onions are a nice garnish for most salads, white cheese, and cooked-vegetable dishes. And scrambled eggs are superb when fried in chopped greens onions simmered in butter.

HORSERADISH (chrzan): Prepared horseradish is easy enough to find on the market, but some recipes call for grated horseradish roots. This root vegetable spreads underground enabling you to dig up a root whenever you need it.

ITALIAN PLUMS (węgierki): Known in Polish as Hungarian plums, they are widely used in Polish cookery to make powidła (plum butter), jams, syrups and cakes.

LEEKS (pory): This is another ingredient of standard Polish soup greens which comprise: carrots, leeks, parsley roots or parsnips, onions and celeriac. Leeks also make a delicious soup and cooked vegetable and are great in salads.

MARJORAM (majeranek): Whereas dill is Poland's favorite fresh herb, marjoram is the most widely used dried herb. The stalks of mature marjoram are cut, tied together in bunches and suspended upside down in a warm place. When fully dried, the leaves are stripped off and sieved to get home-made rubbed marjoram. It beautifully brings out the flavor of pork dishes, meat balls, gołąbki, soups, bigos, roast duck and goose as well as bean dishes. Marjoram is the main flavor accent in kiszka and West Poland kiełbasa.

PARSLEY (pietruszka): Although this green is more widely available in America than dill, having your own fresh-picked parsley whenever you need it is certainly more convenient than dashing down to the store or doing without. The finely chopped greens are used in poultry stuffing (together with dill) and to garnish potatoes, vegetables, soups and salads. The parsley root is one of the traditional soup greens.

PEARMAINS (papierówki): Despite their English name, pearmains are not pears but the earliest variety of apple to ripen (in most years ready to eat in June). The Polish name refers to its paper-thin skin which always a greenish yellow and never turns red.

POTATOES (kartofle/ziemniaki): Although potatoes are certainly available in even the smallest grocery, finding real Polish-style walnut-sized młode kartofelki -- the kind you don't have to peel since their thin skin easily comes often under running water with a pan scrubber -- is not always easy. Naturally, you have to have a fair-sized garden to make growing potatoes worth your while.

RADISHES (rzodkiewka): Although easy to find in supermarkets, there is nothing like crunchy garden-fresh radishes to liven up salads and lend color to platters. They are cooked whole until fork-tender in boiling salted water and garnished with Polonaise topping (butter-browned bread crumbs). The young greens can be chopped and used to garnish salads and white cheese like chives.

RUSSET APPLES (szara reneta): These tart apples are regarded by Polish homemakers as the best variety for cakes, duck and goose stuffing, compotes and other cooking needs.
osiol 55 | 3,922  
17 May 2008 /  #2

Ugly, but so much more useful than the stalky stuff.


Introduced to Poland in about 1708. Jusrt thought I'd mention that.
Matyjasz 2 | 1,544  
17 May 2008 /  #3
Introduced to Poland in about 1708. Jusrt thought I'd mention that.

And became popular about 100 years later, if not more of course. I should know, I come from potatoeland aka Pyrlandia. ;)
Lori 4 | 118  
17 May 2008 /  #4
Thank you for posting this. You have given me about 20 new words that aren't in the usual Polish-English dictionary.

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