Here you will find information about some herbs, fruit and vegetables popular in Poland but rarely seen (at least by me) in the USA on the market. I hope that our readers will help me to update this list. As you probably noticed the recipes which I included in the Polish Culture Website base mainly on these rarely used vegetables. Polish names are shown in brackets.
Horseradish (chrzan) - horseradish is very popular in Polish cuisine - not only as a spice and salad but also as a main component of the horseradish soup for Easter Sunday. In order to do the soup one has to use a horseradish root and grate it (do not use a food processor). We have a recipe for a delicious horseradish soup on the website in the Soups section.
Parsley (pietruszka) root - parsley leaves are quite popular also here in the USA but parsley roots - although available in majority of grocery stores are not used as much as in Poland. In Poland parsley or rather parsnip roots is as popular like carrots - used for salads, soups, sauces. It is also an important addition for Christmas - we have a recipe for carp with parsley. When you buy seeds be careful - some of the seeds are just good for leaves and green parsley but not for a root.
Celery root (seler) is also very popular in Polish cuisine. Some groceries have a celery root available. It is used mainly for salads and soups.
Sorrel (szczaw) is especially popular for sorrel soup. There are some varieties of sorrel soups available, not difficult to prepare. I will try to post the recipes soon. Sorrel in Poland can be find growing wildly on the fields but I rather recommend you to plant it in the garden.
Redbeets, red beets (buraki czerwone) are very popular in Polish cuisine especially for soups (borscht or barszcz) and salads. Click here for some of the recipes for redbeets salads. Redbeets soups use not only root but also stems and leaves.
Potatoes (kartofle, ziemniaki) - of course potatoes are common in every European and American cuisine. For some strange reasons - I am not sure whether it is weather conditions or the type of potato which grows in Poland - but these Polish potatoes are just very good. It is strange considering that potatoes came originally from America to Europe. Polish potatoes are similar in size and shape to red potatoes and only red potatoes can compare (but not equal) in taste to typical Polish potatoes. They are never dry and they do not break during cooking, they still keep a firm consistency. When I went back home after my first year spent in America - this is when I really appreciated a taste of Polish potatoes. Potatoes in Poland are done in many different and innovatives ways, they are also used to prepare dumplings and many varieties of Polish noodles.
Fennel (koperek wloski) - is not commonly used in Polish cuisine. But I just want to mention it because it is used as a soothing medicine for almost all babies in Poland. Seeds are effective against flatulence and are used to treat colicky babies. Almost all Polish babies drink fennel tea from time to time. Just use a quarter of spoon of fennel seed mixed with a cup of boiled and sweetened water.
Cabbage (kapusta) - is used in many different forms - as fresh or sauerkraut (kapusta kiszona) as a side dish for dinner or lunch. Also lamb and pork with cabbage is delicious, since cabbage enrich the taste and kills the grease. Fresh Cabbage or sauerkraut can also be used for dumplings. One of Polish specialties is a hunter stew (bigos) - it is done mainly from cooked sauerkraut with sausage, pork, mushrooms etc. Cabbage is like wine - it is better when it is older (that means after many hours of cooking).
Dill pickles (ogorki) are used in many different forms not all are familiar here in American cuisine, read more about cucumbers' preparation, history and recipes. So called Polish pickles which are available here in the stores are not the real Polish pickles. The original Polish pickles, so called Polish brine-cured dill pickles (ogorki kiszone or kwaszone) - are naturally cured as opposed to pickles pickled with vinegar. The author found a detailed information about Polish pickles in Polish Heritage Cookery which I recommend at the bottom of the article. Claussen pickles are the most similar to Polish pickles.
Other vegetables or fruit which are used more frequently in Poland than in American cuisine are for instance Rhubarb (rabarbar) and gooseberries (agrest) - both are frequently used for juices and marmalades. Rhubarb is also used for cakes.
Please, let me know if you would like to enrich our list of popular Polish vegetables, fruits and herbs.
The most extensive and varied Polish cookbook ever published in English, with over 2,200 recipes in 20 categories, written especially for Americans with American weights, measures and temperatures a book written by Robert Strybel, Maria Strybel , entitled Polish Heritage Cookery
Stefan Buczacki's Best Kitchen Herbs is a comprehensive guide to growing culinary herbs. It is very cheap also!
Polish Herbs, Flowers and Folk Medicine by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab, Mary Anne Knab (Illustrator)