Umbria is the summit of Italy’s truffle traditions and its culture. Umbria is the biggest yielder of edible fungi throughout Italy. There are many black truffles found in summer and winter, but in Umbria, there are the rare white truffles to look forward to as well.
The Umbrian truffles are famous all over the globe, but in Pettino, an ancestral village, there is a natural and relaxed approach to truffles. Truffles and truffle hunting in Umbria, Italy is a daily part of life. Every day these treasures are hunted, sold and eaten. Thus, the people in Umbria, Italy have become the custodians of truffle recipes, and they have also passed down the recipes to the family, generations after.
Here are a few facts about truffle hunting
- Truffle hunting is a fascinating and poetic experience, which is great fun and relaxing, as well.
- Truffle hunting can be done only if you have the required license. This is because the ancient code of honour safeguards the truffle grounds.
- Trespassing into another truffle hunter’s path is regarded as bad manners.
- It is considered illegal to employ pigs to hunt truffle in Italy as these pigs damage affecting the truffle production.
- Nowadays dogs are used as they are smart and make faithful friends to the hunters.
About Truffle Hunting
Truffle hunting is not an easy task; there are a few factors that reveal whether the precious fungi are somewhere around:
- Type of soil: Truffles prefer wet soil, hunting for a week or two after rains ensure an abundant yield. In case the area is dotted with mushrooms, you must wait for the mushrooms to collapse and then initiate your search for truffles.
- Trees: It is essential that a symbiotic relationship is formed with the trees; this is required for the growth of truffles. The beech tree is the king, but it is also acceptable to have oaks, firs, pines, eucalyptus, and hickories as guides.
- Animals: Animals are the real friends of truffles. They dig and dump the spores elsewhere. On searching for fresh diggings, you will find buried fancy fungi in the vicinity.
- Burnt Areas: The fact is that they emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that suppress any growth sign around their trees. Thus it results in burnt impressions in some areas, and you can notice that nothing grows in such burnt areas.
- Sniffing: They have a pungent, strong smell. Once you familiarise yourself with it, you get to understand this smell. Keep sniffing the truffle oil, until you really can identify it.
Finding the first truffle offers an inexplicable excitement, and truffle hunting is a serious business that requires observational skills, lots of patience, and interaction with your natural world. Truffles do take a lot of effort and time to harvest. Traditionally, hunters used pigs, but now the truffle duties are handled by dogs for logical reasons such as having more stamina in comparison to a pig, the dogs are easier to train, and they do not eat the truffle they find.