Treasure Hunting For Truffles. Truffles is a mushroom that has formed a symbiotic relationship their environment. They grow underground among the roots of trees with only a few types of trees, such as cedar and maples that are not associated with truffle forming fungi.
Many mushrooms look quite similar to truffles but are poisonous so never eat a wild mushroom without the guidance from an expert. Truffles are found underground among the roots of chestnut, elm, oak, pine and willow trees during the fall, winter and spring seasons.
Where Can I Find Truffles?
Truffles are quite common in the Pacific Northwest Mountains from California through Oregon and Washington to British Colombia. They have also been reported to have been found in Idaho and Montana but these rumors have not been validated.
How Can I Find Truffles?
In the United States three things clues are used by shroom hunters when searching for this elusive fungi. The first is that the soil under the trees must be moist and warm. A good time to search is 10 to 14 days after a good heavy rain.
The second clue is that the right type of tree must be present. Look for Beech, Birch, Douglas fir, Eucalyptus, Fir, Hazel nut, Hickories, Oak and Pine trees.
The third clue is that the truffle fungi need animals to disperse the spores. Look for the signs of rodents or other small animals such as squirrels and chipmunks have been digging in the area.
Use a four tine garden cultivator to rake the leaves and other debris off the surface of the ground starting about 10 feed from the trunk of the tree working inward. Work to a depth of 1 to 6 inches. Always replace the litter when you are done and leave the area as you found it. Truffles can be brown, red, white and black in coloration and often look like a small dirt clod.
A well ripened truffle will smell like deep fried sunflower or a walnut seed through not everyone has the ability to detect the odor. In the past pigs have been used to hunt for truffles. A female pig (sows) become sexually excited when they smell the fungi because it produces a smell that is similar to smell of the sex hormone produced by a male pig.
How Do I Store Truffles?
Truffles should be used as fresh as possible but if you are a hunter extraordinary, then you can store them in a paper bag for several days. Never store them in a plastic bag because they will mold very rapidly. They also can be frozen in a glass jar or immersed in olive oil. The olive oil will absorb the flavor and can be added during food preparation. A dehydrator can be used to dry the mushroom for later use. Soaking in warm water for about one half an hour prior to use is recommended.
Where Can I Sell My Treasures?
You can sell them at upscale restaurant, at a local farmers market and at swap meets for $65 to $80 a pound for white truffles and $100 to $150 a pound for black truffles. This mushroom is used in gourmet dishes around the world and is in high demand. The taste is often compared to garlic and mushroom blended. It is often served uncooked on salads, omelets and pasta. On a good day you could find 4 or 5 pounds, not a bad day's work.
Happy Treasure Hunting.