Truffle is a delicacy that, as a real treasure, is mined from underground. The subtleties of its collection are known to experienced mushroom pickers and their specially trained dogs. Many hotels in Northern Italy are now inviting for the “quiet hunt” with royal trophies. However, truffles do not grow only in Italy, so you might find some in your area. In this article, I will give you some useful tips on how to find truffles and where to search for them.
Where is the best place to find truffles? The best place to find truffles is in the oak and hornbeam forests and on limestone soils. Truffles grow under trees, or rather on their roots, and choose only certain species as their home: oak, birch, hazel, beech. The most valuable truffles can be found in the south of France, Switzerland, and northern Italy.
What kind of trees do truffles grow under? Summer truffles grow under beech, hornbeam, and oak trees, while the Piedmontese truffle grows under birch, linden, and poplar trees. Truffles grow underground in deciduous forests and form mycorrhiza in symbiosis with trees.
How many truffles can one tree produce? One tree can produce up to a thousand truffles, but only three or four truffles will remain on one tree. Sometimes, truffles grow alone, but, as a rule, one tree will produce up to 5 truffles.
How deep in the ground are truffles? Truffles are usually 15-20 cm deep in the ground. Truffles begin to grow underground, reach 20-30 cm, and only then come to the surface, after which they need several more months to ripen. For example, a winter black truffle makes its way to the surface in March and is fully grown by November.
What animal is used to find truffles in the ground? Pigs are used to find truffles in the ground. They like eating truffles, so they will find them by smell. Dogs are also used to find truffles in the ground. Such dogs can smell a truffle at a distance of several meters. Truffle-hunting dogs need to be trained for a long time. That is why such dogs can cost up to 15 thousand dollars.
Can dogs smell truffles? Of course, dogs can smell truffles. Dogs have been used to find truffles in the ground since the Middle Ages. Dogs can smell a truffle at a distance of 10 meters, and they will never eat raw truffles, unlike pigs. Truffle-hunting dogs start to be trained as puppies when the owner buries cheese in the ground. Such coaching may last up to five years, so no wonder these dogs are expensive.
It is better to go on a quiet hunt with a dog or a pig at night. Dogs and pigs can smell truffles better at night when it is cooler. However, if you use a pig to find truffles, you must put a muzzle on its face that would prevent it from opening its mouth. But what about pigs, can they eat truffles? Yes, they sure can, and they probably will. Pigs like truffles and do not mind eating them after finding them.
Why are pigs good at finding truffles? Pigs have a good sense of smell and can smell truffles at a depth of 1 meter. It is believed that the sex hormones of male pigs have a smell similar to truffles. Nowadays, however, dogs are more often used to search for truffles since pigs often eat a significant part of the mushrooms they find.
Since not many people know much about truffles, some may think that truffles are made from pigs. Of course, this is not true that truffles are made from pigs. Pigs are only used to find truffles, but they do not produce truffles.
As for dogs, they get used to finding truffles quite easily. Before finding a truffle in the forest, dogs should eat exclusively milk boiled with truffles. Of course, the choice of dogs for such training should fall on the breeds with good hunting instinct and who are not accustomed to chasing any kind of fowl. It is also advised to choose a dog with short legs for truffle finding.
Truffle hunting can be carried out with a professional guide and trained dog. Many Tuscan hotels offer gourmet forest tours of varying lengths. Excursions can take an hour or two, but much more often stretch out for the whole day. Then the “quiet hunt” is combined with wine tasting and/or a truffle-making master class and a stop for lunch. The price of such tours starts at 80 euros.
How to find truffles without a dog or a pig? If you want to find truffles without a dog or a pig, go to forests with dry limestone soil and sparse vegetation. Most often, truffles grow in oak or beech rooves. As a rule, the vegetation is scarce above truffles. Truffles can also be found in swarms of yellow truffle flies that lay eggs near these mushrooms. Their larvae feed on truffles.
Also, if you suddenly find that the ground around the bush is dug up, then perhaps wild boars or bears, also great lovers of elite delicacies, have already been here. Search immediately, the probability of finding a truffle will be very high.
Why Are Truffles So Hard to Find?
Truffles are so hard to find because they grow underground and are located at a depth of 20 cm. It is impossible to notice truffles with the naked eye. You will need to go truffle hunting with a trained dog or a pig. Also, truffles need the soil to contain a lot of calcium.
The delicacy grows underground and is not easy to find. But there are some signs that you might have stumbled upon a valuable delicacy:
- The vegetation above the truffle is sparser;
- Soil takes on a gray tint;
- Red flies use the fruiting body of the truffle to feed the larvae, so they swarm around “mouth-watering” places.
How long does it take to grow a truffle? It will take at least six years to grow a truffle. However, on average, it takes about 10 years to collect the first truffle harvest. Truffles do require special conditions to grow. What are they?
What climate do truffles grow in? Truffles grow in a warm climate with mild winters and humid, cool summers. Truffles do not like rain since moisture takes away a truffle’s aroma and makes it rot. Truffles do not like winds and direct sunlight. The perfect soil acidity for truffles is 7.9, which is resistant to water erosion, loose, with lime, an admixture of clay, rich in humus, nitrogen, and calcium.
How Do Truffles Look?
What does a truffle look like in the ground? Truffles are round or tuberous. The consistency is fleshy or cartilaginous. They can be as small as walnuts or as large as potatoes. The outer layer of a truffle is smooth, cracked, or warty, depending on the variety. The inside of the truffle has dark and light veins. In the section, it looks like marble.
Fresh, high-quality truffles have a strong aroma. If you press a truffle, it should be soft. The truffle forms mycorrhiza with many trees. Its black and summer varieties grow near beeches, oaks, hornbeams, and hazel trees. Piedmont truffles grow on the roots of birches, poplars, elms, lindens, and mountain ash.
What causes truffles to grow? Symbiosis with trees causes truffles to grow. The mycelium envelops the root system of the tree, so it better absorbs nutrients from the soil.
How do you dig for truffles? When digging for truffles, you should act carefully and adhere to several rules:
- When you find a truffle, clear the area around it.
- Do not pull the fruit bodies out of the ground, but carefully remove them with a knife.
- Cut without damaging the surface and root.
Do not look for truffles in young forests. They have poor soil unsuitable for the growth of the truffle.