How to find truffles: basic truffle hunting rules
Truffles are underground mushrooms with an extraordinary scent, offering endless possibilities in the kitchen… but how to find truffles? Where to find truffles?
The notions to know are many, and you cannot improvise truffle hunters overnight. However, if you have this passion, and you want to undertake this fascinating research, the first useful advice is to attend a course to obtain the appropriate card. The card will allow you to start your career as a truffle hunter in Italy following current regulations.
In fact, in addition to knowing the various edible species and symbiont plants, truffle hunters also must safeguard the natural habitat of the truffle (truffles are very sensitive to the surrounding changes). Therefore, truffle hunting courses also teach how to behave in the woods, how to use the truffle hunter’s vanghetto (limited to the area where the truffle is located), how to cover the ground where the truffle is collected and give basic notions to hunters.
For example, hunters can’t collect damaged or not yet ripe truffles. This is because truffles contribute, with their spores, to the production of truffles of the following year. Finally, in order to become an authentic truffle hunter, you must search truffles with a trained dog.
In short, you don’t improvise truffle hunters, but you can become one, with commitment, passion, and good will!
But where and how to find truffles?
An experienced truffle hunter will never reveal his research secrets, so as not to give advantages to the competition.
By the way, learning and getting the right knowledge of the truffle world will certainly help to start this career, which will then evolve with the necessary experience. So, let’s find out together how do truffle hunting and where to find truffles!
How to find truffles | truffle hunting periods
How are truffles found? Before finding out how to find truffles and how to search truffles, it is essential to understand when to look for them and inquire about the regulations and harvest calendars of the various types of truffles. In fact, each variety can be harvested within a period established by the law, otherwise harvesting is prohibited.
Each truffle has its own harvest period, as mentioned.
Therefore, when to start to look for truffles?
The period from September to December, for example, is the perfect harvest season to look for precious white truffles and uncinato truffles. On the other hand, the precious white truffle is harvested from mid-November until mid-March. Anyway, from November to March, you can find the brumale truffle, which shares part of the harvest period with the marzuolo truffle (which is from January to April).
When to look for summer truffles?
Summer truffles can be found during spring/summer (from May to September), consulting the regional and provincial collection calendars, which are different in any area.
Where to find truffles
But where are truffles born? Let’s start by saying that they are very delicate hypogean mushrooms, sensitive to what happens around them; truffles grow underground, in symbiosis with some types of plants (which are therefore called symbionts) but require special conditions to grow.
Each truffle, in fact, has preferences: a favorite soil and symbiote plants. Therefore, it is important to know the optimal type of soil and the symbiont plants. It is also easier to find truffles if we study their history and characteristics … and if we rely on the excellent nose of a truffle dog, such as the lagotto romagnolo, the English pointer, the German bracco and, more generally, the hunting dogs.
Basically, dogs are all potentially truffle dogs, if trained correctly, but the ones we have mentioned are the most used breeds.
Among the regions where it is more frequent to find truffles, we must first mention Piedmont (especially the Langhe area); followed by Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Lazio, Marche, Abruzzo, Molise, Umbria, Campania, and Calabria. All the regions that are located along the Apennines of the italian peninsula and in the major islands are generally good for truffle hunting.
How to find truffles | Some examples
The precious white truffle prefers sandy, calcareous, and clayey soils, slightly sloping, no more than a thousand meters above sea level (only in some special cases higher).
That’s it? Not really.
Soil must also be well ventilated, rich in calcium and potassium, as well as humid even in the hottest periods.
The plants where truffles of this type can be found are oaks (such as oak, downy oak, oak, Turkey oak), poplars (black and white), hazelnuts, willows, linden, black hornbeams, oriental hornbeams and, although rarely with this truffle, even some conifers such as black pine.
The precious black truffle prefers a warm and sunny environment and calcareous soils rich in crushed stone and calcium, from 300 to 1000 meters above sea level, instead. The favorite truffle plants of this variety are downy oak, Turkey oak, hazel, hornbeam, lectern, and cistus.
On the other hand, the black winter truffles, and summer truffles, prefer symbiont plants such as white and black hornbeams, hazelnuts, beeches, oaks, linden trees, cedars and prefer clayey and calcareous soils, below 1600 meters, without stagnation of water.
Tartufaie (truffle farms), the place where truffles are born
When it comes to where and how to find truffles, it is also necessary to talk about “tartufaie” (truffle farms).
First, what is a “tartufaia”? Can truffles be cultivated?
In short, a “tartufaia”, or truffle farm, is a ground where truffles are born.
Truffles can be natural, controlled or cultivated (in this case they are also called artificial).
There are “tartufaie” where truffles are born spontaneously, without any kind of help from man: symbiote plants are already present in the soil and truffles grow naturally. In natural truffle farms, anyone who is in possession of the card, has a trained dog and complies with the regulations relating to the periods and times of collection, can devote himself to the collection of truffles.
On the other hand, controlled truffles are natural truffles helped in the growing process using the so-called mycorized plants. These are plants in which the spores of the truffle are already attached to the roots, facilitating the birth and development of new truffles.
In the case of cultivated (or artificial) “tartufaie”, we mean truffle farms where an ad hoc environment suitable for truffles is created: this involves brushcuttering, plowing, stone-lining, possible irrigation.
The mycorized plants are then planted directly: in short, a perfect habitat is specifically created for the growth of truffles, which will be ready for harvesting after about ten years.
Although truffe cultivation is not easy, it can bring good results if we try to breed precious black truffles, or bianchetto and scorzone truffles.
The cultivation is seldom successful in the case of the precious white truffle instead.
Unlike natural truffle farms, controlled and artificial “tartufaie” are grounds where only owners and usufructuaries can collect truffles (even without having a collection card).
How to find truffles | the main advice
So, how to search for truffles?
We can briefly say that we need the following elements to collect truffles:
- symbiont plants
- harvest periods
- knowledge of the laws
- knowledge of natura truffle farms
- good advice and study
If you want to discover how to find truffles, this can be good advice:
study hard and with passion the different varieties, the areas where truffles are born, the habitat that allows their growth and the laws about it.
In fact, this is the only way to become experienced truffle hunters and immerse in the wonderful universe of flavors and aromas of truffles.