The truffle of Abruzzo

Abruzzo is the first region of Italy in terms of truffle production. Each area of ​​the region is suitable for hunting and collecting these tubers. And each locality has specific characteristics that favor the growth of some particular species. In Abruzzo there are at least 28 different truffle varieties. There are different types: TuberMelanosporum (Precious black truffle and real tip of the Abruzzese cuisine), TuberMagnatum (Fine white truffle), Tuber Brumale (Winter black truffle), Tuber Aestivum (Black summer truffle or Scorzone).

In Abruzzo, 40% of Italian truffles are produced and in the region the best collection of tubers from all over the world takes place. Only in the Sirente Velino Park, the production of the cultivated truffle extends in the Valle Subequana and in the northern Marsica area, with different varieties and quite significant productions.

The knowledge and appreciation of truffles in Abruzzo has its roots at the beginning of the 19th century. Luigi Marra in the book Del Tartufo reports the writings of Ignazio Niccolò Vicentini who, in the Memory on the Culture of Truffles, recited at the meeting of the Economic Society of L’Aquila on 19th of April of the year 1828 (Tip Grossi , Aquila 1833), so he writes referring to the use of truffles: “The aroma of truffles, and perhaps the astringent substance they contain, enough to preserve the meat; while it is observed that the truffle-filled chickens do not spoil so quickly. The liqueur with truffles is made, impregnating the water of the aroma, which gives the same esala, made in pieces: but it should be cold prepared: because the less heat it deteriorates the quality and delicacy “. The examples cited demonstrate the knowledge of the tuber in Abruzzo since remote times and, with it, different forms of use and transformation.

The truffle of Abruzzo is a PAT product. Traditional Agri-Food Products represent a calling card for quality Italian agriculture. The term refers to those agri-food products whose methods of processing, preservation and maturing are consolidated over time, homogeneous for the whole territory concerned, according to traditional rules, for a period not less than twenty-five years.

The truffle is a hypogean fungus: it develops in the subsoil and its name derives from the Latin word “tuber” which literally means “outcrop of earth”, a name that recalls its irregular shape. The truffle, belonging to the family Tuberaceae, is a fungus that grows spontaneously next to the roots of some trees, with which it establishes a real symbiotic relationship that takes the name of “mycorrhiza” (from the Greek mykos: fungus, and rhiza: root). Abruzzo is the largest truffle producing region in Italy.

In more recent years, a large part of the production of Abruzzo has been acquired by extraregional processing industries and marketed all over the world under different brands. The truffle collection is carried out with the help of dogs properly trained for research, but in the past the female of the pig was also used, more resistant and less distracted by other smells left by the game compared to the dog. However, the difficulty of controlling the animal and the consequent risk of damage to the truffle has led the regions to ban the use of the pig in the truffle collection. Over the years it has been so selected a breed of retriever dogs, “the Lagotto”, which has become the truffle dog par excellence.

In recent years, the growing interest in truffles at the regional level, also witnessed by the considerable increase in the searchers, has encouraged the creation of fields with truffle species made by the Regional Agency for Agricultural Development Services in order to provide knowledge about cultivation of this precious mushroom. (Source: Atlas of Abruzzo Traditional Products). The Arssa has conducted studies to catalog and describe each area and is the body that qualifies for the examination for the release of a researcher’s card, essential for carrying out this activity.

Truffle is a very delicate ingredient. It can be stored in a cool place for a short time (maximum 7-8 days) wrapped in a transpiring gauze and closed in a glass jar. But also covered with rice that absorbs moisture preventing it from rotting ahead of time. The black truffle is used in generous quantities, and is consumed almost exclusively raw, dusted and grated on food to flavor.

When cooked, the white one is essentially a flavoring and is used in reduced doses to perfume cooked food. The tuber has a sweet and intense flavor and gives off a characteristic scent of undergrowth. As for recipes based on truffles, the cuisine of Abruzzo offers many dishes that find in this food a true guest of honor: from appetizers to first courses, from main courses to side dishes, the truffle finds its full realization both in dishes of vegetables, meat and eggs.