A Favourite Czech Pastime: Mushroom Hunting!

Mushroom hunting is a favourite hobby in the Czech Republic with a very long tradition—I’ve even heard it referenced as a “national sport”. Historically, poorer families have often use mushrooms as a substitute for meat. These days, it is both a practical way to gather delicious food supplies and a beloved family pastime. It is such a common practice in Czechia, there is even a “Mushroom Advice Centre” in Prague where visitors can bring mushrooms they have found to have them identified.

The first time I heard about the Czech passion for mushroom hunting, I knew I’d made the right choice to move here. As a nature lover and voracious eater of mushrooms, it’s something I’ve always wanted to try but never knew how to do safely. Luckily, a Brno local was kind enough to show me the basics! It was rather late in the season by the time we actually got around to it, so we only got a handful of useable mushrooms in the end– but it was enough to make an excellent Risotto ai Funghi for dinner. The locals will often collect many baskets of mushrooms at a time and dry them out to use though the winter.

The most commonly picked mushroom is the Boletus edulis (Hřib smrkový or Hříbek in Czech) because it’s easy to find and is considered quite safe as there are no poisonous mushrooms that resemble it closely. In Czechia, edible mushrooms are more likely to be found in coniferous (rather than deciduous) forests. The hunting season lasts from May until November with peaks in September and May and different mushrooms growing depending on the time of year. The conditions are best a couple of days after it rains—even better if it’s not too hot and the sky is overcast. There is no shortage of beautiful forests to go foraging, though the one we went to was about 45 minutes’ drive from Brno, near the border with Slovakia.

This photo shows two essential materials: a wicker basket and a small knife. The knife is important to clean the mushrooms and remove the loose dirt and mycelium at the base of the stem. The basket, of course, is to carry the mushrooms. The wicker basket is most popular though mesh bags can also be used. A plastic bag is not recommended both because the plastic can cause the mushrooms to lose their freshness and because many believe that the basket or mesh ensure that spores from the collected mushrooms are spread across the forest floor.

I would definitely recommend this hobby to anyone who likes to be outdoors as you get to collect your own (very fresh) food while enjoying a relaxing day in nature with friends or family. Of course, not all mushrooms are edible. If you’re interested in giving it a try, make sure you go with someone who knows how to identify the right mushrooms or look for a hobby group to join. Never eat a mushroom that you aren’t 100% sure about!!!

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.