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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » June 29, 2012
Polska…tastes good!
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Regional and Traditional Products
June 29, 2012   
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Kashubian Strawberries
The first Polish fruit to enjoy protection under European Union law is the Kashubian strawberry (truskawka kaszubska in Polish, kaszebskô malena in Kashubian). Its name was registered in November 2009 as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in the EU.

The Kashubian strawberry comes in different shapes: round-conical or round-kidney shaped. Its longitudinal cross section is heart-shaped, when cut across it is round. The early-harvest fruit is large or medium-sized. The skin color is dark red, consistent across the whole surface, slightly glossy, and the flesh is bright red when cut. The fruit is firm, slightly hard but also juicy. It is covered in a silky, very thin skin on which pips are visible. Kashubian strawberries are sweet and aromatic. Because of the conditions in which they ripen, Kashubian strawberries stand out from varieties grown in other regions due to their higher sugar content. This is the result of the special microclimate of the Kashubian Lake District, and particularly the daily temperature fluctuations—cool nights and scorching days.

Kashubian strawberries are produced in Kartuzy, Ko¶cierzyna and Bytów counties in Pomerania province, and in the communes of Przywidz, Wejherowo, Luzino, Szemud, Linia, Łęczyce and Cewice. Only the following varieties may be sold as Kashubian strawberries: Senga Sengana, Elsanta, Honeoye that have been graded as Extra or Class I.

It is not quite clear how strawberries arrived in Kashubia, but we do know they appeared there in the early 20th century. It is also a fact that the area on which they were grown increased with every year. The taste and popularity of the strawberries led more and more farmers to grow them. Strawberry fields kept expanding for over half a century until they became a permanent part of the Kashubian landscape. It was this proliferation that led the locals to establish and organize the Strawberry Picking Festival. This is an outdoor event held since 1971 on the first Sunday of July on Złota Góra (Golden Hill) near Brodnica Górna.The unique character and popularity of the Kashubian strawberry is also reflected in the volume of strawberries grown in the region. There are as many as 1,500 plantations, making this a very important fruit for the regional economy. In particular, it is worth noting the efforts of strawberry growers to unite and act together in matters involving the Kashubian strawberry, including measures to preserve its quality and flavor.

Apples from Grójec
In October 2011, the European Commission registered “apples from Grójec,” as a protected geographical indication.

These apples have more intense color than average, more blush and high acidity, about 5 percent higher than the average for a given variety. This is due to the unique microclimate in the region of Grójec (Mazovia province), with its high temperatures in the period before the apple harvest. The special character of Grójec apples is also influenced by the region’s dominant podzol and pseudopodzol soils of lower productivity classes, which are ideal for growing apples. The Grójec region has been linked to fruit production since the Middle Ages, while Grójec county and neighboring counties have developed apple growing into a unique industry. Apple growers were followed by businesses serving this agricultural segment; they built the infrastructure needed to support apple farmers. Southern Mazovia has thus turned into “Europe’s biggest orchard,” as the locals like to call it. The centuries-old apple growing tradition of the region means it is immediately associated with the fruit. The fame enjoyed by apples from the Grójec region is due to their significant market share and high quality. The region producing “apples from Grójec” includes 21 communes in Mazovia province and five communes in ŁódĽ province. The biggest concentration of apple trees is in the communes of Błędów, Belsk Duży, Grójec, Warka (up to 70 percent of crops).

The beginnings of fruit growing near Grójec date back to the times of Queen Bona, who received large pieces of land in the area in 1545. Thanks to her efforts there were several times more manor orchards in Grójec county at the time than in neighboring counties. In the 19th century a lot of credit for promoting apple growing in the Grójec region is due to priests, who grew apples themselves and taught others how to produce the fruit. Poland’s first fruit storage facility was set up here in 1918. This enabled apples to be sold in the winter months when there was a shortage of high-quality fresh fruit. Apple growing in the Grójec region developed very rapidly after World War II, as proved by the founding of the Research Institute of Pomology and Horticulture’s experimental farm. This farm became a model facility that helped teach local fruit growers modern methods of cultivating fruit trees. As time went on, the productivity of the Grójec region’s orchards grew steadily. The annual celebration of the Apple Blossom Festival testifies to the importance fruit growing has for the local community.

Sweet Crescent Rolls
On St. Martin’s Day (Nov. 11) the residents of Poznań and surrounding localities consume 250 tons of sweet crescent-shaped pastries with a filling made from white poppy seeds. The Rogal ¦więtomarciński (St. Martin’s roll) is also known in Europe, having been listed since the end of 2008 as a European Union good protected under the regulation on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs.

The St. Martin’s roll tradition dates back to pagan times, when sacrifices were made to the gods in the fall, usually oxen or—as a substitute—pastry rolled to look like ox horns. The church took over the custom and linked it to St. Martin. The pastry’s shape was interpreted as a reference to the shoe the saint’s horse had lost.

Credit for the fame of the Rogal ¦więtomarciński goes to the confectioners and bakers of Poznań, the capital of the Wielkopolska region. The unique features of this pastry are the result of the knowledge and skills of the makers, who follow strict rules. The croissant is unique because of its appearance, shape, taste, aroma and the use of a special ingredient—white poppy seeds for the filling. There are two important factors in the product’s special character: the rough puff pastry made from wheat flour, margarine, milk, eggs, sugar, yeast, salt and lemon flavoring, and the filling from white poppy seeds with added sugar, sponge cake crumbs, whole egg pulp, margarine, raisins, nuts, fruit in syrup or candied fruit (cherries, pears, orange peel) and almond flavoring. The way the pastry is rolled up with the poppy seed filling and then decorated with icing and chopped nuts is another special feature. All these elements together with the croissant’s special flaky pastry make the Rogal ¦więtomarciński an original product not found anywhere else.

The Rogal ¦więtomarciński has been hugely popular in Poznań for at least 150 years. Many legends and tales of its origins testify to its fame. According to one legend, the Poznań croissant was pioneered by Józef Melzer, a confectioner working at a bakery who convinced his employer to bake croissants to give away to the city’s poor. He apparently got the idea in November 1891 after hearing a sermon by Father Jan Lewicki, parish priest at St. Martin’s Church, who encouraged his parishioners to celebrate the day of this saint—the personification of love of one’s neighbor and the patron saint of bakers—through a charitable act to help the poor residents of Poznań.

Natural Apple Juice from Lutynia
Delicious apple juice was handed out for free to soccer fans to promote Lower Silesia during the Euro 2012 soccer championship. Fans were treated to free apple juice made in Lutynia, Miękinia district (Lower Silesia province), at the main railway station and the airport in Wrocław.

The cold-pressed apple juice, which is naturally cloudy and pasteurized, is made according to a method that has been used in Lutynia for four generations, and owes its special character to the apples grown in Lutynia’s orchards. The unique local microclimate is used to advantage by Lutynia residents, who apply special integrated fruit-growing methods that yield extraordinary and flavorful apples every year. Proper ripening of the apples gives the juice its special full flavor and aroma.

Lutynia residents say that production is simple, based on the same method used for decades. Linen fabric, traditionally used in the extraction presses, is still used as a filter today. Juice pressed through these linen scarves is strong and slightly cloudy thanks to high apple pulp content.

The production process includes squeezing juice from fresh fruit, leaving all the natural vitamins and other ingredients inside. The apples are crushed in a special press with wooden dividers. It takes 9-10 kg of apples to make 5 liters of juice. No additives, sugar or concentrate are added.

The most famous pressed apple juice is made by the Karczewski family, called Sok z Maciejowego Sadu w Lutyni (Juice from Maciej’s Orchard in Lutynia).
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