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Nature: discovery of the truffle of provence

The truffle tradition in the Ventoux, Verdon and Luberon regions

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Nature: discovery of the truffle of provence
There are different ways to find truffles in Provence. Cavage is one of the terms used in the Luberon to designate the search for truffles.

Even though the truffle growers have increased their production, the truffle has remained a mysterious fruit of the land, and outside the private truffle we are never sure where to find it or how much can be harvested .
Cavage: where and how to find truffles

Too bad when one knows all the flavor and the aroma of the black fungus, especially that of Tuber melanosporum that the lucky ones can find in the Luberon. Its taste, its sweet and tasty fragrance add to the gourmets of the whole world.

Where do you start looking for the black diamond?

The Provençal climate and the soil of the Luberon are perfectly suited to the development of Tuber melanosporum. This black truffle is the most delicious and rich in perfumes.

The truffle production period is from December to March. The best period for the harvest is January / February, the mushrooms are then at good maturity.

The truffle is a fungus that grows between the roots and rootlets of certain trees. Their favorite hosts in the Luberon are the holm oak and the pubescent oak. The limestone soil favorable to these trees is also to the growth of truffles.

Once the right tree species have been found, it is necessary to look for a phenomenon visible to the naked eye that makes it possible to spot, but without guarantee of success, the producing trees: the burned. It is an area at the foot of the tree where the vegetation on the ground is marked, as burned. In fact this may be the fungus that prevents the herbs from growing.

You have to spot the good trees in the forest of Luberon, holm oaks and pubescent oaks, marked by the burnt.
Attention: the truffles, very recognizable by the well-aligned and maintained oaks, are private. The truffle growers live off their production. The wildcage in a truffle is forbidden, it is theft pure and simple, punishable by the law ... and which can generate reactions of self-defense.
Any technique then is good to find the black treasure.

Caving techniques

The search for the black diamond of the Luberon is practiced in different ways, more or less ancient. An animal with a good flair may be used, such as a dog or a previously erected pig, or an insect which is a fly attracted by the perfume of the truffle.

The ancients generally used the pig. It turns out, however, that this animal does not have a great physical resistance, that it is not very fast and that today it is considered "quite bulky". Nevertheless, it does not diminish its ability to smell mushrooms buried under the forest soil of the Luberon, so why not ?.

The smell of the truffle is quite similar to that of a sow in heat, which allows the pig to detect these little wonders very easily.
Today, researchers prefer the dog company. The breed is not important, the main thing being that his smell is sharp and that he has not been trained beforehand for hunting. This detail is extremely important insofar as research may compromise the presence of game in the vicinity. On the other hand, the animal must be trained to recognize the perfume of truffles. This training does not take much time and with a little tidbit the dog will be encouraged to continue his research. When the dog detects the smell of the rabasses, he scrapes the earth at the place of the emanations of perfume and the master can proceed to the digging. The operation consists in releasing the fungus (s) from the right-of-way of the soil that covers it.

The most passionate can appeal to a fly. But be careful, not just any one.

It is a species called Hemolyza tuberivova. Its body is more stretched than ordinary flies, and it has a light brown color. The game consisted in watching the fly against the light: when the insect smells of the smell of truffles, it tries to lay its eggs where they grow. And the same thing, the digging can begin. The precision of the discovery is not certain and it is often necessary to do it several times.

Professionals and amateurs are already imagining and working on what they call "the Provence of the Truffle". A project of economic and tourist future around the black diamond.
Do not call it truffles from Périgord ... Say rather, truffle of Provence, when we know that 80% of the French production of tuber melanosporum is "high" under the roots of oaks that saw the sun rise between Ventoux and Luberon, it is widely believed that the Provençaux sleep on a diamond river ... They are about 3000 to exploit the vein, some by tradition others by profession, all with passion.

Whether they are united in unions, federations or brotherhoods, they intend to resettle the regional black truffle on the pedestal it deserves. They want to maintain the leadership of the production and marketing of this incredible mushroom whose cooks agree that it takes 20 grams to taste happiness on the plate!

Except between Luberon, Verdon and Ventoux, between 50 and 80 tons are produced (depending on the year), almost artisanally, while several European countries (eg Italy, Spain and Bulgaria) exercise to an almost industrial level!

But more than producing truffles, it is making the truffle a spearhead of the regional tourism economy which is the real stake of this historic interregional cooperation. It is not easy to organize and federate in the same direction and in a common interest, an activity exercised by professionals but also amateurs, known as secret (they are simply called discreet). Yet this is what has been working behind the scenes for a year. "It is about developing the attractiveness of a territory by truffle and truffo-tourism", explains André Pinatel, president of the program "Territories, Trufficulture and Development".

For Michel Santinelli, President of the regional federation of PACA trufficuteurs: "We aspire to more recognition and support to offer a beautiful future for truffle Provence!" For Patrice Goavec of the syndic of truffellers: "The profession is not sufficiently recognized. This idea of ​​cooperation and label is an action skeleton that is set up!" The season of the truffle in Provence is in full swing and the truffle growers caress their dogs ...

1500 tons was the production recorded in 1960 (of which 500 tons for the Vaucluse and 300 tons for the Ventoux alone). Today, it is on average 78 tons.

7500 hectares of truffles are currently exploited knowing that 8 hectares generates about a job.

70 to 80% of the national production comes from the PACA region. Trufficulture represents a resource of 51 million euros on PACA.

4 houses of the truffle promote it: in Ménerbes, St Paul Trois Châteaux, Monieux and Aups

The most popular appointment between pro and individuals
the village of Ménerbes is the Truffier communes of the Luberon. The gratin presses in the morning to shop at the markets reserved for private individuals. No speculation between merchants, but enough to enhance his next festive meal with black diamonds. The tradition of the market organized for 20 years between Christmas and New Year's Day.

It must be said that in Ménerbes, the truffle is pampered: a house is even consecrated to him. Last year, the town hall was awarded the Marianne d'Or for Sustainable Development for its many actions in favor of the production and economy of truffles (planting of a municipal truffle, removal of the property tax on the non-built, as soon as a truffle is there ...) It is from 9 am that amateurs will be invited to make their market on the Town Hall Square while awaiting enthronement in order of the brotherhood of the rabassiers of a few surprise guests!

Source: Sylvie Péres-Lugassy -

Provence Luberon Sotheby's International Realty: Your expert in luxury real estate in the Luberon and Provence.

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