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A small mushroom makes it big

on December 11, 2022

Istrian truffle is one of the most famous truffles in the world

The small Istrian village of Livade is considered the first truffle world center: already in the 1930s, the major truffle festival took place here. In 1999 Buzet has also been declared a truffle town. Today the region around Motovun Forest is considered the largest truffle center in Istria. The truffle region is located in the heart of the peninsula and extends along the Buzet-Oprtalj-Motovun route. This region includes all the places surrounding the famous Motovun forest, which is also the largest truffle habitat: Roč and Hum to Labin and Kršan in the south and in the west towards Vižinada and Grožnjan. However, there are also smaller truffle sites near Brtonigla, Kaštel, and Buje.

By the way, the biggest truffle in the world was also found in Istria. It even made it into the Guinness Book of Records: the white truffle weighed an incredible 1.31 kg.

The truffle search

Since the truffle grows underground, it is searched for with the help of specially trained female dogs. Why females? Because they are more obedient and therefore not so easily dissuaded from the search for truffles. What starts with a small piece of truffle to eat, becomes a real truffle machine after a short training period: so the truffle search can begin. As soon as the truffle is sniffed out, the sniffer nose eagerly digs for the super mushroom, but so that it remains undamaged, the human takes over the rest of the work. The much sought-after tuber is then freed from the earth with a special shovel. In Istria, these truffle shovels are called okta or vanga, they often have different shapes, so they adapt to the needs of the truffle collectors.

Truffle varieties in Istria: black and white thinking is allowed here

There are black and white truffles. Black truffles have a more intense taste, but a milder smell than white truffles. A distinction is made between black winter truffle (Tuber Melanosporum, Perigord truffle), black autumn truffle (Tuber Uncinatum, Burgundy truffle), black summer truffle (Tuber Aestivum), and white truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico, Alba truffle). 

Black winter truffle - Tuber Melanosporum - Périgord truffle

November to March 

This truffle is considered the highest quality black truffle and follows right after the Alba truffle (white truffle) on the popularity scale. However, unlike white truffles, the Périgord truffle is also excellent for cooking, because its aroma really comes out when it is heated. It tastes very intense, slightly sweet, and somewhat musky. The Périgord truffle usually grows only 4-12 cm below the surface. On the outside, the winter truffle is black and covered with very small warts, and on the inside, right at the transition to the flesh, it is brown. The fruit's flesh (also called gleba) is black with many bright small veins running through it. This tasty mushroom is not particularly picky and therefore forms a symbiosis with many different deciduous trees, such as hazel, or even conifers such as pine. However, it clearly prefers calcareous soils and warmth. In addition, the Perigord truffle is very easy to plant - today half of this coveted truffle comes from cultivation.

Black autumn truffle - Tuber Uncinatum - Burgundy truffle 

October to January

The second noble black truffle is the black autumn truffle or Burgundy truffle. It smells of beet and tastes nutty, especially like hazelnuts. Overall, this truffle tastes and smells less intense than most truffles. However, as it matures, its subtle fragrance increases in intensity. This popular mushroom can grow as large as an apple but has a teardrop shape. Its surface is black and is distinguished by its dark brown grain. It is covered with many small warts and its interior is light brown to dark brown and interspersed with dense white veining. The Burgundy truffle, just like the Périgord truffle, is flexible in its association and enters into a symbiosis with many deciduous trees, but it is predominantly inclined to hazel, linden, copper beech, but also willow, birch, poplar, oak and also spruce from time to time. It thrives in moist, shady, and calcareous soils.

Burgundy Truffle

Black summer truffle - Tuber Aestivum

May to November

The Burgundy truffle has a doppelganger, at least externally - the black summer truffle. Thus, the summer truffle also tastes nutty, especially since the hazelnut note is quite dominant. But there is a culinary difference in the truffles that look the same on the outside: the summer truffle tastes less intense than the burgundy truffle. In addition, the interior of the black summer truffle is brown and is very interspersed with white veining. Due to the large presence of insects in the summer, this truffle can not ripen as long as the Burgundy truffle, which leads to a less intense smell and taste.

White truffle - Tuber Magnatum Pico - Alba truffle

September to January

The white truffle outwardly sometimes resembles a potato, its color varies from ocher yellow to light brown. Culinary and economically, this truffle species is the most appreciated and due to its intense flavor, the white truffle is also one of the most expensive truffle species. The size varies from 10 grams to one kilogram and the largest specimens of one kilo are usually sold at auctions at astronomical prices. Depending on which tree the Tuber Magnatum Pico associates with, its aroma also varies: from shallot and garlic to walnut. Alba truffles grow in symbiosis with oak, hazel, poplar, hornbeam, and linden, in loamy or sandy as well as carbonate-rich soils. If you want an intense truffle smell, but a slightly less intense taste, the Alba truffle is your choice. Fun fact: Most truffle species can now be cultivated, but the white truffle can't be kept down and only grows in the wild.  

The endless truffle mania 

If you're already addicted to truffles or have a hankering to try one, here are a few of your truffle-loving twins: Marilyn Monroe, U.S. President Truman, actress Rita Hayworth, and many more celebrities have had the largest specimens of the Alba truffle delivered to their homes since the 1950s.

White and black truffle

As you can see, black and white are more of an elegant checkerboard pattern here, and on the plate, yes, it's quite colorful. No matter which truffle you prefer or will prefer, each truffle is special in its own way. Being brave is especially rewarding here: you can expect a culinary experience of the extra class paired with all the ingenious micronutrients. How often is pleasure rewarded? With truffles on your plate, you have found an incredibly health-promoting food. 

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