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The black truffle, a real perfumed diamond, incites delight and enchantment. The ‘Tuber Melanosporum’ has made the Haut-Var its favourite haunt. Truffle patches, truffle markets, truffle festivals, specialised restaurants… electrify your senses!

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The truffle’s favourite haunt

‘Fragrant diamond’, ‘black pearl’, ‘shadowy lady’, or even ‘underground empress’ – there is no shortage of nicknames to describe the exquisite intensity and the mysterious aura which has surrounded this venerated and condemned mushroom for centuries.

The Aups region in Haut-Var Verdon is renowned as the ‘grand cru’ of truffles in France.
As the third biggest truffle-producing department in France, the Var produces 1.5 tonnes of truffles every year! The Haut Var, due to its medium altitude, hot and dry climate, and shallow, limestone soil, is the preferred haunt of the black truffle.

Truffles in the Var has its own story… Come and discover the markets, festivals and folklore that surround it.

©Var Tourisme / Christian Raolison
©Fotolia

The truffle in cooking

Above all, the truffle has to be eaten fresh in order to taste its magnificent flavours. It goes with everything: vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, rice, pasta and even can be used to flavour some desserts!
To prepare the truffle, brush the base underwater with a small, firm brush when you want to use it in order to remove the earth covering its outer skin. You can then grate it, or chop it into fine strips using a peeler. You can buy ‘truffle planes’, which can be found in Italian hardware stores, under the name of ‘mandolines’.

Watch out – you don’t ‘cook’ truffles, but they can be added at the last moment, after cooking.
A little tip for a delicious truffle broth: the day before, put the truffle in a Tupperware container with eggs (not broken!), as the porous egg shell will absorb the aroma of the truffle before cooking.

Truffle colours in the Var

The truffle is an underground mushroom which comes in different colours, depending on the variety: white, yellow, beige, grey or black. In the Var, you can find black and white truffles.

The black truffle (Tuber Melanosporum): its tender black skin covers an equally dark flesh, with white marbling and a delicate grain. The value of this truffle (the most precious of all) is in its heady, almost animal-like aroma. The truffles are collected between November and March.

The white truffle (Tuber Aestivum): also covered in a black skin, but has a white flesh. As its Latin name suggests, it is gathered in summer. Its aroma smells pleasantly like sheepfolds.

©Var Tourisme / Christian Raolison
©Var Tourisme / Nicolas Lacroix

Truffle production

The black truffle is jealous. As soon as it selects a tree to grow around, it suppresses the growth of everything around it for several metres in all directions. This is known as the ‘burning’ – the promise of a harvest for a truffle collector.
Truffle patches can only be found in limestone soil. For the mushroom to grow in good conditions, the spring needs to be warm and wet, followed a hot, dry period of 30-35 days and a few downpours (40 minutes) during the summer.

Truffles cannot be gathered like mushrooms: we need to enlist the services of a real detective!
The dog: their incredible sense of smell rarely fails, as long as the dog has been well-trained.

The sow: its snout, used for truffle hunting (unearthing) even on stony ground made it the former star of truffle hunting.
The fly: the ‘Suilla Gigantéa’ is small, but capable. It seeks out the truffle to lay its eggs. If several of these fragile insects are fighting over a particular spot, that means that the truffle is ripe.

Best harvest period: 1st January – 15th March

Truffles in history

‘Fragrant diamond’, ‘black pearl’, ‘shadowy lady’, or even ‘underground empress’ – there is no shortage of nicknames to describe the exquisite intensity and the mysterious aura which has surrounded this venerated and condemned mushroom for centuries.

During the Middle Ages, the Church referred to truffles as ‘Devil’s mushrooms’, but quickly changed its mind and permitted its celebration, via a ‘truffle mass’, celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of January, in homage of Saint Antoine, the patron saint of truffle collectors and the ‘black diamond’. At this moment, during the search, the basket is filled with beautiful truffles which are auctioned at the end of the ceremony.

In France, François I was the first person to bear homage to this equally exceptional and mysterious mushroom. It is said that every year, he always offered a basket of truffles to his mistress…

©Var Tourisme / David Latour

See truffle patches, as well as all produce and producers