One of the incredible activities we’re looking forward to on our trip in October is truffle hunting in the heart of Tuscany. Visiting in October means we’re right in the middle of truffle season, and the region’s renown white truffles will be abundant.
The white truffles are actually more greyish in colour and can easily be mistaken for clumps of dirt or stones. But these precious Tuber Magnatum Pico mushrooms have a strong aroma, which provide a sensory overload to our guiding dogs who are eager to dig up these gems.
White truffles are named after the white poplar trees whose roots provide them nourishment for growth. This symbiotic relationship whereby the trees and truffles grow together actually makes European white truffles one of the more expensive varieties. It’s this growth process that makes truffles more flavourful and aromatic than the average mushroom.
While we normally see truffle shaved on our pasta or perhaps as an oil as a seasoning, they’re best savoured fresh from the farm to maintain their natural texture and scent. No matter where you find them, truffles are among some of the most expensive natural foods in the world, ranging in value between $250 and $2 500 USD per pound.
We’re sure to get some insights from our guiding tartufaio, but to best prepare ourselves, we’ve uncovered some tips of our own to get us ready!First – truffles like wet soil. So rain ahead of our tour will be a real good omen.
Second – dogs are better hunters than pigs. Dogs are easier trained and most importantly, less likely to eat their finds! So while pigs seem real charming, dogs will be your best friend in this situation.
Third – it might be a good time to get our wellys on! Wet land is better explored with water-proof, sturdy foot-wear.
Fourth – burnt roots are a good sign. Truffles emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which chemically inhibits signs of growth around their sheltering trees. This results in what looks like burnt areas that can’t be missed. A darkened area where there’s no other growth should be clear to spot to find winning truffles.
Fifth – follow your nose! It’s best to study the smells that we’re going to be hunting for, as a honed sense of smell can be extremely helpful when surrounded by wafting earthy aromas. It wouldn’t even be a bad idea to take some truffle oil on our pockets for smell-comparisons on the go!