Truffles and Trifles. A taste of this magical world!
truffle hunting in the Langhe

Truffle hunting: Everything you need to know about this magnificent world

This heat is a bit exhausting. Let’s reminisce about autumn between one shower and another: mild temperatures, enticing aromas, and meals with feet under the table. And then, leisurely walks among colors without sweating, unlike these days!

So, immediately, the mind connects all these thoughts to the king of autumn and the cold season: truffles and their magnificent world!

There are many truffles, some of which are proper local excellences. However, it is a product in nature in limited quantities and for a certain period. Among the various types of sought-after truffles, especially to complement dishes for refined palates, we find:

  1. White Truffle or Trifola (Tuber magnatum pico): Harvested between September and October, this truffle is widespread mainly in our regions but also in Umbria, Tuscany, and Marche. Its aroma is very intense, as is its flavor (slightly reminiscent of cheese and garlic).
  2. Precious Black Truffle or Norcia Truffle (Tuber melanosporum): Harvested from November 15 to March 15, highly sought after and widespread in Piedmont, Veneto, and the Central Apennines. Its organoleptic characteristics are highly appreciated, as they are not too “aggressive” to the palate and smell; the fragrance is not too intense, and the taste is delicate.
  3. Whitish Truffle or Marzuolo (Tuber borchii vitt.): Harvested from January 15 to April 30, it is challenging to use in the kitchen unless you are a culinary expert. Due to its intense aroma and unpleasant taste, it can be indigestible even after cooking.
  4. Summer Black Truffle, Scorzone (Tuber aestivum vitt.): Harvested from May 1 to August 31, it has a more delicate aroma than usual black truffles, and the taste is similar to porcini mushrooms – delicious!

Truffle hunting is not an impromptu activity nor a pastime to be practiced when there’s nothing to do on the weekend! You must have a special card authorizing the person to collect truffles for five years. You must pass an exam and be at least 14 years old to obtain it. Surely, passing an exam won’t automatically make you a “seasoned researcher,” but experience and continuous research will gradually increase your skills. Moreover, many may not know it is mandatory to conduct truffle hunting with a dog, the so-called “truffle dog.”

The most used dog breed is the Lagotto Romagnolo, although any breed can be trained to search for truffles. Other dogs are typically “hunting” breeds, such as the Pointer and the German Shorthaired Pointer, but even mixed-breed dogs are very successful! Pigs were also used for truffle hunting (yes, it’s true!), but since 1985, by law, truffle hunting can only be done with dogs.

The “handler,” or truffle hunter, and his dog lead the search. The handler must take the dog to the so-called “pastures,” which may host truffle beds. Once the dog has detected the possible presence of truffles, it will start digging, but the handler must quickly stop it and continue the digging with a small hoe. After extracting the truffle, the handler will cover the hole with the same soil to avoid damaging the truffle bed.

Once collected, truffles must be placed in unique bags, colloquially called “catane,” in the pockets of hunter jackets/vests or baskets. By law, collecting up to 2 kg of truffles is allowed unless the truffle hunter owns the land. Also, searching for truffles at night or outside the permitted periods is forbidden.

After this overview of information, do not forget that from October 6 to November 25, Alba will host the 88th International White Truffle Fair, the most anticipated event of the year for all truffle lovers. It’s also an excellent opportunity to experience everything you’ve read firsthand! If you have specific requests or are coming from afar and need to organize a weekend during that period, I will not fail to include this unmissable fair among the things to do! Save the Date! Remember?

If you want to experience this world firsthand, request us to organize a Real White Truffle Hunt with a final tasting of wines, cheeses, cured meats, and a delicious fried egg with a sprinkle of White Truffle! See here!


Leave a Reply