Truffles in Tuscany: quick guide

Truffles are one of the best Italian foods to try and Tuscany is a region with a high truffle production. Although autumn is the season of the precious Tartufo Bianco there are other varieties that grow in the woods all year round. From the main varieties to the best recipes to try, here is a quick guide with all you need to know about truffles in Tuscany.

Hunting for truffles in Tuscany [Photo credits: Emma Ivarsson]
Hunting for truffles in Tuscany [Photo credits: Emma Ivarsson]

Tuscan truffle varieties

Truffles are fungi that grow underground, in symbiosis with the roots of trees. There are more than twenty-five varieties of truffles in Italy, but only a few are edible and have commercial importance. Here are some of them:

White Truffle - Tuber Magnatum Pico (from October to December)

It’s picked in autumn, mainly in the San Miniato hills and the Siena area, as well as in the Val Tiberina, Mugello, and Casentino woods. White truffles are gathered in hilly areas, along riverbanks, in shady valleys, on damp valley floors, and on hillsides facing north. Sizes vary from that of a chick-pea to a large orange, and it gives out a strong pleasing aroma similar to fermented cheese.

Precious Black truffle - Tuber Melanosporum (from November to March)

Precious black Truffle is not very common in Tuscany. It needs cold and dry weather to reach its peak. Its fragrance is aromatic and not too pungent, and its flavour is delicate.
Marzuolo truffle
Marzuolo truffle

Marzuolo truffle - Tuber Bochii (from January to April)

Bianchetto or Marzuolo, particularly widespread in Tuscany, can be found in the same areas as the white truffle, along the coasts of the provinces of Pisa, Livorno and Grosseto. The smell is very strong, with scents of garlic, and it’s suitable for countless recipes.

Scorzone truffle - Tuber aestivum Vitt. (from May to August)

The Scorzone is very frequent in calcareous soils and oak and pine forests. It has a wrinkled surface and a yellow bronze flesh with many light-coloured streaks and a delicate aroma similar to that of mushrooms.

Experience truffles

Recipes with truffles

Once you have fresh truffles, creating tasty dishes is very easy but always remember these few quick rules: 1. No matter what kind of truffle you have, it must be fresh 2. Raw is better. Truffles need only a little heat to release all of their flavour. The best way to enjoy fresh raw truffles is to shave them onto your hot dish. As for quantity, typically use 8-10 grams of truffle per person 3. Truffles are well suited to creamy textures. They work best with eggs, butter and cheese

Try these quick recipes at home:

Truffled egg - [Photo taken at Savini Tartufi in Forcoli]
Truffled egg - [Photo taken at Savini Tartufi in Forcoli]

Truffled Egg

Ingredients - Two fresh eggs - Extra virgin olive oil - Salt - White or Marzuolo truffle

Method Heat a terrine with a little extra virgin olive oil, then crack the eggs and pour into the bowl. Cook on low heat and add a pinch of salt. When it’s almost cooked, add the truffle slices and cover the pan. Serve and enjoy your eggs with a slice of freshly baked bread.

Recipe by Cooking Tuscany 

Poached egg on Pienza pecorino cheese fondue and black truffle [Photo taken at Biagio Pignatta restaurant]
Poached egg on Pienza pecorino cheese fondue and black truffle [Photo taken at Biagio Pignatta restaurant]

Poached egg on Pienza pecorino cheese fondue and black truffle recipe

Ingredients - Pienza pecorino red - Cream - Grilled Tuscan bread - Black truffle from Norcia - Salt - White wine vinegar Method - Grate the cheese and melt in the hot cream and mix well with a whisk to obtain a smooth sauce - In a large pot pour the white wine vinegar and salt and, when simmering crack open the egg and poach it - Pour a ladle of cheese sauce into a bowl, in the middle place the grilled bread crouton on top of the egg and black truffle slices Recipe by Michela Bottasso, Biagio Pignatta restaurant
Tagliolini pasta with truffles [Photo taken at Savini Tartufi in Forcoli]
Tagliolini pasta with truffles [Photo taken at Savini Tartufi in Forcoli]

Tagliolini pasta with truffles

Ingredients - Fresh tagliolini - Butter - Fresh truffles

Method - Boil your tagliolini in salted water - Meanwhile melt the butter in a double boiler, adding a pinch of salt and pepper - Remove the butter from the double boiler and add about 10 to 15 grams of truffle per person - Once the tagliolini is ready, drain and combine with the melted butter - Grate some parmesan and serve your dish with a few grated truffles on top

Recipe by Cooking Tuscany

Truffle tartare [Photo taken at Cooking Tuscany school in San Miniato]
Truffle tartare [Photo taken at Cooking Tuscany school in San Miniato]

Truffle tartare

Ingredients - Ground beef - Chives - Coarse salt - Pepper - Extra virgin olive oil

Method - Combine meat with chives, salt, and pepper - Serve with the shaved truffles on top

Recipe by Cooking Tuscany

Hunting for truffles in San Miniato with Truffle in Tuscany
Hunting for truffles in San Miniato with Truffle in Tuscany

Hunting for truffles

Together with an authorised hunter and a trained dog you can enjoy a peaceful walk in the woods. In San Miniato, for example, you can choose among many organised tours, from one hour hunting to full-day tours which combine walks and wine tasting. After a morning of hunting in the forest you can reach the kitchen for a cooking class (with lunch).
At the White Truffle Fair in San Miniato [Photo credits: Michela Simoncini]
At the White Truffle Fair in San Miniato [Photo credits: Michela Simoncini]

Top Truffle fairs

The most famous truffle festival in Tuscany is the National Exhibition of the White Truffle in San Miniato. It’s held during four weekends in November (this year it will be held from November 12 to December 4). During this festival, you can also taste traditional recipes at many local restaurants, buy traditional and unique products or participate in authentic truffle hunting. In San Giovanni d’Asso (Siena) on November 12,13-19,20 (2016 edition) there is the Crete Senesi White truffle market. For the occasion, you can reach the village starting from Siena on a steam train. You will find kiosks and restaurants selling countless specialties made with truffles. The programme includes also cooking shows, a Pecorino cheese competition, special dinners and many many tastings. Do not miss Volterra’s White truffle exhibition at Volterragusto on October 22,23, 29, 30, 31 (2016 edition). Beyond the market a very interesting cheese rolling race is held: the Palio dei Caci Volterrani. The challenge consists of tumbling a wheel of cheese down the slope of a street in the shortest time.