One question we often get asked is ‘how do truffles grow’? As truffle experts, we could offer a very long, very detailed explanation, but for brevity’s sake, put simply, truffles are fungi, like mushrooms, that grow underground attached to the roots of trees. But the story goes deeper than that.
Truffles are among the most mysterious and prestigious foods on earth. While most people know and understand what mushrooms are, truffles grow in ways that are notably different from most mushroom varieties. For one, most mushroom types grow best on decomposing organic matter such as rotting trees, sawdust, grains, or wood chips. These sources provide ideal conditions for the growing mushrooms with readily available nutrients to support the growth of the mushrooms.
Conversely, truffles grow in symbiosis with trees by attaching themselves to the roots of oak, poplar, hazelnut, beech, birch, or pine trees. This unique relationship allows the truffles to provide their host companions with valuable nutrients and minerals from the soil, like magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. In exchange for their hard work, truffles are rewarded with sugars and other carbohydrates from the tree which help to support their growth.
Besides growing along the roots of specific tree varieties, there are a set of unique conditions needed for truffle growth. Truffles tend to thrive in cool, damp, humid conditions, which is why white truffles and black winter truffles are harvested throughout the autumn and winter in prime truffle-growing regions. Access to water is also important, so rainfall at critical times during the growth process helps to hydrate the truffles and facilitate their growth while simultaneously making nutrients more available.
Soil chemistry is also critical since the truffles grow underground. For truffles to achieve optimal growth, the soil pH should be between 7.5 and 8.3. Most of our truffles at Sabatino Tartufi are grown in the Umbria region of Italy, prized for its lush forests, cool, moderate climate, ample rainfall, and near perfect soil conditions. The resulting truffles offer increased intensity in aromas and flavor.
With the environment playing such a vital role to the proliferation of truffles, great care is taken to ensure truffles are harvested using the least invasive methods possible to ensure the long-term health of our trees and to make sure we maintain ideal conditions for future growth of truffles. The use of trained truffle-hunting dogs allows for the most efficient and least damaging process of harvesting truffles compared to raking or machine-aided harvesting. At Sabatino, we are committed to preserving the land for future generations of humans AND truffles!
This overview of how truffles grow applies generally to most truffle varieties. At Sabatino, we focus on White Truffles (tuber Magnatum), Black Winter Truffles, otherwise known as Black Perigord Truffles (tuber melanosporum), and Black Summer Truffles (tuber aestivum). Generally speaking, these are the most flavorful, aromatic, and most in demand truffles.
For 110 years, Sabatino Tartufi has helped chefs and home cooks alike experience and discover the magic of truffles across the world. Whether its harvesting, shipping, and delivering the finest quality fresh truffles directly to kitchens everywhere or developing new, artisanally-crafted truffle products for use in a variety of cuisines, Sabatino Tartufi is all about truffles.