Carlo Vittadini (1800-1865) is the one who classified truffles – an Italian doctor, botanist, mycologist and cartoonist, the son of a farming family. He was the author of several important works on Italian mushroom species, describing 65 species of truffles, including 51 new ones, in his Monographia tuberacearum (1831).
At first, truffles were hunted with the help of pigs, which were replaced by dogs, considered more intelligent and willing to team up with the truffle hunter. The pigs, with their well-known greed, sought out the truffles to eat, or, if they could be recovered from their snouts, they were partially destroyed.
Searching for fresh truffles with the help of the dog is a team effort. The fruits of this work are only reaped after a few years of working a lot with a dog, as it is necessary for him to gain confidence and become a real expert in finding truffles.
The quality of truffles
In addition to classifying truffles as edible and inedible, white or black, with names in Latin, truffles are divided according to quality: 1 or 2.
The first quality represents truffles with a weight greater than 15-20 grams, which means that they do not have a degree of deterioration greater than 20%. If the truffle is damaged more than 20% it will be classified as second quality, weighing between 5 and 14 grams.
Truffles grow in certain parts of the forest, in shady and humid areas, in a certain type of soil, with a special exposure from a cardinal point of view, in places with an area between 5-10 square meters, but also on areas larger big.
Each species of truffle prefers certain conditions. Summer truffle prefers sun, autumn truffle likes shade and moisture, winter truffle prefers marshy places, and white truffle likes marshy and lowland places. The truffle grower learns to distinguish between each type of truffle and the conditions in which it grows, with each truffle having a distinct flavor that is broadly similar to the others, but still has an olfactory element of differentiation.
The most common truffles are summer and autumn truffles.
Summer truffles are very similar to autumn truffles, except that their flavor is weaker than autumn truffles, they look slightly different in texture and the color inside is dulled compared to that of autumn truffles.
Summer truffles grow from May, in the plains, so at low altitude, starting to appear from April the so-called signal truffles, which announce the start of the season, but are of lower quality. The good truffles appear in May and last until September, when the autumn ones appear.
September truffles have a more intense aroma, being more fragrant and can be found until December, sometimes even until January-February (in the mountains, at high altitudes, over 1,000 meters).
Around the truffles also grow signal plants, i.e. certain plants that indicate that the soil in that forest is also suitable for truffles.
Truffle friendly trees
The host trees, mycorrhizal partners of truffles, are several species of oaks, hazelnuts, hornbeams, beeches and lindens.
The symbiosis between the truffle and the tree is another spectacular element in the life of these magical mushrooms, which sometimes grow even 70 centimeters underground (white truffle).
The benefits of truffle consumption
Fresh truffles contain proteins, lipids, mineral salts – calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, sodium, chlorine, phosphorus, magnesium and selenium. They are also rich in vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, B5, D, C, K, E), but also contain chitin, linolenic acid, fiber and carbohydrates, essential oils.
Truffles have no cholesterol and contain very little fat, which can be consumed by people following a diet (100 grams of black truffles have around 25-30 calories).
Experts believe that the unsaturated fatty acids and essential fatty acids in truffles help prevent many troublesome conditions, including arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure. In addition, consumption of truffle-based products eliminates fatigue and stress, accelerates the healing process and prevents premature aging.