Frequently Asked Questions about Truffles

In very simple terms, a truffle is the edible fruit of a fungi which grows in association with tree roots.

The plant provides sugars to the fungus through photosynthesis, and the fungus provides the plant with minerals, water, and other nutrients from the soil that it could not get by itself. The actual truffle is the fruiting body of the fungus formed in this symbiotic relationship.

Different truffle types grow on different tree species. Tuber melanosporum will grow in association with any oak species and hazels. Tuber Borchii can grow on a large variety of tree species, including various pines and oaks. Burgundy can grow on hazels, certain oaks and are associated with birch trees in Europe.
It takes anywhere between 3-8 years after planting before an infected tree will produce truffles. Factors which come into play to explain this variation in time to first harvest are complex, but they may include site suitability, tree management, tree quality and species and a little good fortune!

A well trained and hard working dog has no problems finding truffles. The catch is in having a trained dog in the first place. During the harvest season any individual tree should be searched every 7-10 days, so there is a necessary and significant time commitment required throughout the truffle season. It is worth considering hiring professional truffle hunters, with trained and expert dogs.

Truffles are located by their smell. When they ripen they emit a very powerful, fragrant, aroma which comes up through the soil.

The dog will mark the spot where a truffle is. The dog handler will then sniff the ground to confirm that the truffle has reached maturity before carefully digging it out of the ground.

Truffles can also be found by looking for truffle flies (in Europe) as well as suing female pigs.

Truffles can be found at any depth from breaking the surface to any where as deep as 30cm (however they start getting hard to find this deep).
Presently, the limited amounts of both borchii and melanosporum produced in New Zealand are selling in excess of $3000/kg. Worldwide, the markets for truffles all feature strong demand and limited supply, which means prices are likely to be strong for the foreseeable future.
Presently there is a ready market within New Zealand for truffles, mainly through various restaurants throughout the country. As volumes increase more, more truffles will need to be exported. Kings Truffles have already developed relationships with several distributors in USA, Hong Kong and Europe who will take any truffles available.
Unlike other fungi and mushrooms, truffles do not emit their spore but instead rely on animals and insects to spread it.

The truffles signal they are mature and ready for eating by developing odors and sending of gasses and pheromones. This smell that signals to us they are mature and ready for eating is the same smell that lets wildlife know there is a hidden treasure under the ground. We are not the only ones who think truffles are VERY tasty!