The black truffle can grow in the wild or be cultivated. To this day the superior quality of one over the other is still subject of discussion. Some argue that the wild black truffle has a superior aroma since it has grown naturally and at greater depths in the soil. Others suggest that the characteristics of cultivated black truffles are unsurpassed if they are given proper care, control and monitoring.
At Tuberturol, we believe that the most important element is the precise classification of the product obtained. As such, the 'Big' black truffle could be wild or cultivated, as could the Category 3 truffle. And always, as a client, you will know the origin of the product because of its precise traceability. This way, you may judge for yourself.
Since the black truffle may be wild or cultivated, there are two types of professionals dedicated to harvesting them: the gatherers and the truffle growers. The gatherers search for truffles in public or unused oak forests while the truffle growers are those who find truffles in their own plots of land which they cultivate and exploit.
Both groups of professionals require the assistance of a truffle dog which is trained to find mature truffles deep in the soil, and to identify them for their masters. The dogs breeds normally used for this include the Lagotto romagnolo, Rottweiler, German Shepard or Labrador Retriever, though many other dog species can be used, as long as they have acute olfactory abilities and are well trained.
Traditionally, sows were used because of their ability to smell the truffles up to thirty centimeters below ground, ten meters away even with a headwind. However, they also have two important drawbacks that make them less suitable as truffle hunters: their appetite and their weight after six months. Since their training is complex and the useful life of the sow as a hunter is quite short, recently people have chosen to use the dogs mentioned above. Their training can last up to two years, however the investment is worth it because a dog can be used as a hunter for a long time.
The black truffle can be found at a depth of between 5 and 30 centimeters, near the roots of oaks or hazelnut trees, where they have developed in symbiosis with them. Once the dog has identified the location of the truffle, the gatherer must gently excavate it in order to find it. The process is delicate, since it is important to handle the truffle with care in order not to break it. Care must also be taken of the soil, for it to continue to produce truffles.
Truffles are gathered one at a time. Furthermore, even in cultivated plots, they are difficult to find since they are capricious mushrooms that require very specific conditions to grow in. Very often, even with optimal conditions, the mushroom does not sprout. This explains its precious culinary value and its high price.