Truffle production is widespread in Abruzzo and there is also a general presence of spontaneous varieties, with a concentration of various species in different environments, depending on tree species and on the territory’s soil and climate characteristics.
There are several types in Abruzzo: Tuber Melanosporum, the prized black truffle, Tuber Magnatum, the prized white truffle, Tuber Brumale, the winter or Muscat truffle, and Tuber Aestivum, the summer truffle or “Scorzone”.
The knowledge and appreciation of truffles in Abruzzo dates back to the early 1800s. In his book, Del Tartufo, Luigi Marra quotes works by Ignazio Niccolò Vicentini who wrote Memoria sulla coltura de’ tartufi, recitata nell’adunanza della Società Economica de l’Aquila del dì 19 del mese di Aprile dell’anno 1828 (Tip. Grossi, Aquila 1833), and refers to use of the truffle as follows: “The aroma of the truffle and possibly that astringent substance they contain, is sufficient to preserve meat, and it is also observed that chicken stuffed with truffles does not ruin so quickly. A liqueur is also made with truffles, saturating water with the aroma they exude, chopped into pieces, but it should be made cold, since the heat deteriorates quality and delicacy. Fresh truffles would appear to contain an acid: ground and dropped in boiling milk they will turn it so that a truffle cheese can be made, which has a unique scent and is a pleasant food. Truffles will be served in various ways, both boiled in water and baked in embers, as well as raw and sliced into salad, dressed with oil, garlic and anchovies or sardines. Lastly, they can be used dry, stored in the manner to be described herein”.
Paolo Urbani, Managing Director of the company Urbani s.n.c., an important agrofood business that grows, seeks and picks, then processes and sells truffles and truffle-bsed products, made this statement during the 1992 International Truffle Conference (L’Aquila, 5-8 March 1992): “Carlo Urbani was present in Abruzzo and above all in the Province of L’Aquila from the 1930s and came into contact with hundreds of truffle-seekers with whom he established relations of respect, trust and gratitude that were far beyond mere trade exchanges”.
These comments indicate that the tuber has been known for generations, together with many ways of using and transforming it. In more recent years, much of Abruzzo’s production has been acquired by transformation businesses outside the region and marketed worldwide under different brand names.
Truffles are picked with the use of a truffle hound, specially trained to sniff them out, but in the past sows were also used as they are more resistant and less distracted than dogs by other odours left by wildfowl.
Nevertheless, the sow is difficult to control and caused damage to the truf-fle area, so several regions, including Abruzzo, prohibit the use of pigs for truffle harvesting.
Over the years a retriever called a “Lagotto” has emerged as the quintessential truffle hound as it is docile, tireless and will ignore wildfowl traces .Recently a growing interest in truffles at regional level, also testified by the increasing numbers of pickers, has encouraged ARSSA to realize fields of truffle species, with the intention of providing information for the cultivation of this precious mushroom.