If you’ve been on one of the Festival truffle hunts, you’ll know that after the dog finds the scent of the truffle, the grower or the hunter/dog handler will get down on their knees to smell if there really is something there, and decide if it’s strong enough to dig up. A well trained dog will give some sign that perhaps the truffle isn’t all that good, or it’s rotten, but most are just keen to get a pat and a ‘well done Spot!’. They’re trained by making truffle hunting a game and while they might get rewarded with a small dog treat, or a game of ball, they really like a fuss made over them when they find one.
The growers all spend a lot of time on their hands and knees, but what differs is how they chose to dig up the truffle. Every truffle hunter has their own preference for a digging implemement. Some just use their bare fingers. Some swear by a flat stick with a sharp edge. A few use an old spoon.You often have to move a lot of dirt, but if your ‘digger’ is too sharp you run the risk of damaging the truffle. And because the premium grade truffles are selected for appearance as well as their strong aroma you can scrape $100 off a truffle’s value with a careless flick.
There are some purists who say, if you’re going to dig up French black truffles you should be using a French folding knife, Peter Marshall of Terra Preta truffles says it has to be an Opinel knife and he even sells them at his Crossfire shop in Fyshwick. On our Tarago Truffle hunts you might see one of the two beautiful French-made Laguiole folding knives that truffle hunter Dalene Devonshire, uses to dig out truffles.(photo)
If you’ve never been on a truffle hunt there’s still time as some of the growers are adding extra ones due to the demand. See the Hunts page of the Tuffle Festival website.