Truffles and Truffle Hunting Le Marche

Truffles are probably one of the most expensive foods on the planet.

 

They come in the form of black and white truffles with the black variety being more common and white being the finer delicacy.

 

Both black and white truffles can be found in Le Marche.

 

The truffle, tartufo in Italian,  is a pungent-smelling mushroom that grows underground like a potato. It even resembles a potato.

 

The two types (black and white) differ in consistency and odour.

 

The white truffle has a stronger odour and a subtle flavour which is delicate and exquisite. Known as Tuber magnatum, the high-value white truffle (tartufo bianco d’Alba in Italian) is found mainly in the Langhe and Montferrat areas of the Piedmont region in northern Italy, and most famously, in the countryside around the cities of Alba and Asti.

 

A large percentage of Italy’s white truffles also come from Molise.

 

The “whitish truffle” (Tuber borchii) is a similar species native to Tuscany, Abruzzo, Romagna, Umbria, the Marche, and Molise.

 

The black truffle or black Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum), is the second-most commercially valuable species. The black summer truffle (Tuber aestivum) is found across Europe and is highly prized for its culinary value.

 

Truffles are rare and expensive because they grow underground and harvesting them is not an easy task.

 

In Italy, the use of pigs to hunt truffles has been prohibited since 1985 because of damage caused by animals to truffle mycelia during the digging that dropped the production rate of the area for some years. An alternative to truffle pigs are dogs.

 

Dogs offer an advantage because they do not have a strong desire to eat truffles, so they can be trained to locate sporocarps without digging them up.

 

The dogs, with special abilities are used to track down the mushrooms’ distinctive smell.  Generally dogs are preferred as the pigs have a tendency to attempt to dig up and eat the truffles when they find them!

 

Every truffle hunter has his own special secrets and many set out under the cover of darkness to harvest their truffles to ensure their neighbours can’t track where they are headed.

 

 

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