A Catalonian delicacy: Girona truffles

Truffle hunting in Catalonia

The forests of Girona in northern Catalonia hide a culinary connoisseur’s treasure that the untrained amateur would never chance upon. To find the famous black truffles it takes expert knowledge – that and a smart dog.

Every winter, some 500 hunter-gatherers comb the most promising copses and groves of north-east Spain in search of a delicacy that can sell for over 1,000 euros a kilo in Barcelona’s Boqueria Market.

What is a truffle?

The truffle is a subterranean edible fungus that requires special conditions for its spores to take and reproduce. It needs good moisture but also warmth, and the right kind of tree – hazel, oak and holm oak – with which it forms a symbiotic relationship.

The fungus synthetizes minerals for the tree and the tree releases sugar to the truffle.

graus 1

There are 70 types of truffle worldwide, but relatively few have the desired gastronomical excellence. The black Périgord variety is one of the most highly valued, second only value only to the white Piedmont truffle, which is not found in Spain.

How to hunt for truffles

First, you need a dog. And not just any old dog: a trained truffle hound costs upward of 1,000 euros. But it can sniff out the prized fungi at a hundred metres and, unlike the disobliging pigs used in France, it doesn’t need to be restrained from gobbling up the truffle. The dogs prefer a biscuit reward.

Next, patience: wait for the right season. Mid-November to mid-March is when the woodland earth is damp enough for the truffles to form and grow.

Then, choose your terrain. Here in Girona, it will be a wooded slope at an altitude between 500 and 1,500 metres, exposed to warm sunshine and watered with some 50 cm of rainfall during the winter months.

Catalan Pyrenees

The soil must be loose and preferably chalky.  A major clue as to which trees harbour the hidden living gems is an absence of undergrowth beneath them. The truffles absorb a lot of the soil’s moisture, killing off grass, so the ground looks quite bare. 

Once your spotter hound has located a new find, carefully dig out the spot with a pointed trowel. Cup your hand around the rissole-like fungus and carefully pull it free of the tree root.

Hunting for truffles in Girona

Afterwards, the experienced truffle hunter will carefully recover the patch with loosely layered soil and commit the spot to memory, returning to it months or even a year later for more.

Lastly, whether you intend to consume or hawk your wares, do it without delay. The delicate truffle be should be kept dry and very cool (0º - 2ºC) and reach the restaurant table within a week of picking to ensure full freshness and flavor.

Truffles

The cash value of truffles has made it into an interesting complement to traditional agriculture for local people in Girona. With only 10% of the global truffle demand being met (France being the major importer), attempts are now being made to cultivate it.

Over 300 production hectares now exist in Catalonia, where selected strains of oak roots are inoculated with spores. Although can take up to seven years to persuade the fungi to take, the investment is ultimately worthwhile. 

Truffles are the star turn at many a top-flight restaurant, where the strong, exquisite aroma is used to good effect with egg, pasta, shrimp and meat dishes, soups, sauces, salads and ice cream. Flavoursome oils represent another successful combination.

 

We use simple cookies to optimize your experience of using this website. By continuing to use the site, you agree to our use of cookies. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy & Data Protection Policy.

OK

Rustical Travel Privacy & Data Protection Policy

We are very conscious and respectful of your right to privacy.

In order to process your booking and to ensure that your holiday arrangements run smoothly and meet your requirements, we must, of course, use the information you provide such as name, contact details, special requirements etc. But we take full responsibility for ensuring that proper security measures are in place to protect your information.

We must pass the information on to the relevant suppliers of your holiday arrangements such as property managers, keyholder-caretakers and related service providers. The information may also be supplied to public authorities such as customs/immigration if required by them, in accordance with the law.

If we cannot pass this information to the relevant suppliers, we cannot administer your booking or arrange the holiday. In making this booking, you consent to this information being passed on to the relevant persons.

We will not pass on any personal information to any individual or organization not responsible for part of your holiday arrangements. This also applies to any sensitive information that you provide, such as details of any disabilities, or dietary/religious requirements.

We don’t like spam ourselves and we restrict our own promotional mailings to two typically non-aggressive instances:

  1. When a new user actively requests that we send details of special offers, or similar.
  2. Occasional promotional mailings to former clients that they can opt out of at any time.

Otherwise, we never use your  personal information for any purpose other than arranging your holiday booking.

You are entitled to a copy of your information held by us. If you would like to see this, please ask us. (We may make a small charge for providing this to you).
Your data controller is: Rustical Travel

If you need personal assistance, please contact us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Use of cookies

Like most businesses these days, we use cookies to track the number of browser visits to our website and help us learn from visitor behaviour. Our analysis of this information does not identify you as the user so that your privacy is safeguarded.