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How to Identify White Truffles & Mushrooms

Updated April 17, 2017

White truffles are prized for their taste and smell. They are world renowned for being used by top chefs and fetching extraordinarily high prices at auction. Depending on where you live, the type of white truffle available will differ. When most people think of white truffles, they are probably thinking of the famous Italian white truffle. These truffles are found mainly in central and northern Italy growing under oak, hazel, poplar, and beech trees. There is also a white truffle found in North America known as the Oregon white truffle. It usually grows under young Douglas-fir forests.

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  1. Wait until the truffles are ripe. Truffles are only mature during certain parts of the year. The months from October through February are a good time to go truffle hunting.

  2. Locate a truffle hunting ground. It is best to find someone with experience hunting truffles to guide you. An experienced truffle hunter can recommend areas where truffles are known to grow. If you do not have a guide, find the correct type of forest in your area. In North America you will need to look for a Douglas-fir forest, and in Italy look for oak, hazel, poplar, and beech trees.

  3. Find truffles. Once you have arrived at your truffle hunting grounds, begin looking for truffles. Truffles grow in loose soil about 1 to 6 inches deep. Dogs and pigs can be trained to search for truffles. If you do not have access to a trained animal, use a garden rake with wide tines to rake away leaves and other debris. Rake the top couple of inches of soil. Look for hard, irregularly shaped objects. Truffles look a bit like potatoes. Oregon white truffles are white on the outside when they are young, and they gradually turn orange-brown. Italian white truffles are beige when young and darken as they mature.

  4. Be safe. Truffles are never poisonous. However, certain kinds of poisonous mushrooms start growing underground, and they can be mistaken for truffles. You can feel the difference between a truffle and a mushroom. Mushrooms are squishy and spongy. Truffles are hard and brittle. Some truffles will even shatter if you drop them.

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About the Author

Diane Majors has been a freelance writer since 2001. Her experience includes working as an associate editor and writer for her college newspaper, as well as authoring e-books, ad copy and marketing materials for various companies and clients. Majors is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.

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