Esclusive harvesting of natural and planted truffles
In 2016 we obtained, from the Emilia-Romagna region, the authorization for the esclusive harvesting of natural and planted truffles in our forest. This means that, with the help of our four-legged friends, we can look for the popular white truffle (magnatum pico tuber) and much more. Because in our environment there are also other types of truffles: from marzuolo (also called “bianchetto”) to black summer truffle (also called “scorzone”).
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The world of truffles for us starts with the passion of our son, who was still a little boy and become interested in this world. With the help of some truffle friends, seeing such an enthusiastic child, they helped him train his dog by teaching him the ancient craft.
With the help of the trained dog, a passion was born for my husband and me too. The truffle world still fascinates us and having lived in an area where truffles grew for 25 years, it is now a part of our farm.
What truffles are
The truffle is the fruiting body of a particular category of mushrooms known as underground mushrooms, belonging to the genus Tuber and the family Tuberaceae. As the name suggests, these mushrooms live underground, growing to a depth ranging from a few centimeters to, in very rare cases, a meter. The peculiarity of these mushrooms is precisely that they generate fleshy bodies, truffles in fact, where they spread their spores and reproduce. Once ripe, truffles produce an intense and penetrating perfume that overcomes the soil barrier and attracts wild animals that feed on it, spreading spores and facilitating their reproduction.
In our truffle land, we planted mycorrized plants of precious black truffles (Tuber melanosporum). Also known as Black Truffle from Norcia or Spoleto. It has a wrinkled black skin with small polygonal warts, and a purplish-black pulp when ripe, with fine white veins that become a little reddish in contact with the air and black with cooking. It exudes a very pleasant delicate aroma. Matures from mid-November to mid-March.
In summer, we find the summer truffle or scorzone, Tuber aestivum. It has a coarse black verrucous bark, with large pyramidal warts, and yellowish bronze gleba or pulp, with clear and numerous, arborescent veins, which disappear in cooking. It gives off a faint smell reminiscent of porcine mushrooms. Matures from June to November.
Tuber magnatum Pico commonly known as white truffle (or also white truffle from Piemonte, Alba or white truffle from Acqualagna). It has a smooth, non-verrucous peel, light yellow or greenish color, and pulp more or less light brown hazelnut, sometimes dyed with bright red, with thin and numerous light shafts that disappear with cooking. It emits a strong and pleasant aroma. It matures from October to the end of December. Sometimes, even in July, August or January, it is possible to find the so-called fioroni, that is, wormed and smelly carpóphores: in this case it is necessary to avoid harvesting and the hole should be closed carefully, because they contain numerous spores useful for the reproduction of the species.
Finally, in our wood we often find Tuber Borchii Vitt. or Tuber albidum Pico commonly known as bianchetto or marzuolo truffle. It has a smooth, whitish peel tending to fawn and light flesh tending to fawn to purplish brown with numerous branched veins. It exhales a perfume that tends a little to the smell of garlic. Matures from mid-January to mid-April. It is very common, even in quite different environments: it is in fact one of the least demanding truffles, prefers sandy soils but also adapts to clay or limestone soils and supports soils with neutral or subacid reaction.
How truffles are found
It is with man’s best friend, the dog, that the culmination of a human-animal partnership is reached and that culminates in the moment of joy and happiness when the precious aromatic ball is unearthed. The truffle dog, in addition to being the first and only auxiliary recognized by the legislation in force to search and collect truffles, must be cared for and respected. The characteristics of a good truffle dog depend on two fixed points: the natural aptitude for search and the type of training received.
Any dog is suitable for harvesting truffles.
In the dog “Lagotto Romagnolo” are included all the main features of a good truffle hunter. It is a breed specially selected and recognized by enci (Ente Nazionale Cinofilia Italiana) in 1991: it is a dog of medium size, with characteristic curly hair, docile and affectionate temperament, not distracted by the game, is an avid smeller of the earth, who sniffs continuously. The physical characteristics to be looked for in a truffle dog are:
- Wide chest, well developed in height, width and depth, a prerequisite for good lung capacity and resistance to fatigue;
- Mantle of dense, hard and strong fur, which protects the animal from thorns and blackberries plants;
- Average body size to easily overcome the undergrowth obstacles.
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Dry the truffle well with a clean cloth. Place the truffle in a glass jar or sterile container that can be hermetically sealed. Add a few layers of kitchen paper to the container. Place the container in the refrigerator. Check the truffle every day and replace the absorbent paper in case of excessive moisture for no more than 7 days.
A freshly picked truffle is very dirty and rich in excess soil, as it grows just below the ground. Even if we bought it, it is likely that there are still some small pieces of earth. But the first operation to do is not to clean: the fact that as truffles for sale are not perfectly clean is not a mistake, but a technique to conserve it as long as possible. Peridium (external part) and a layer of earth delay the proliferation of perishables microorganisms leaving it in ideal conditions allowing it to continue maturing: for this reason, thorough cleaning will be carried out shortly before consumption.
The two species must be treated differently in the kitchen: to clean the white truffle only use a brush or soft bristle brush, while during cleaning the black truffle can also be passed through cold water.
For white truffles, the most recommended recipes are simple ones, which place them in the center of the dish, combined with delicate flavors, such as tagliolini with truffle grated, fried egg, minced meat or risotto. The black truffle, on the other hand, releases all its aroma when subjected to not very intense cooking, for example in fillings, cooked together with risotto, meatballs, soufflé, snacks and pates.
Store the whole eggs, rice or chicken breast in the same container as the truffles, they will absorb all the aroma released. And even after cooking, you will feel its taste and fragrance.