It is called the black gold of Périgord or the black diamond of gastronomy. It hides under the oaks or wild hazelnut trees of the Dordogne valley: the black truffle of Périgord. She is so discreet that you don't know all her secrets. Here is some information from its harvest to its sale on the markets of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. Or how to combine tourism and cuisine.

What is the Périgord black truffle?

The Latin name of this mushroom is Tuber Melanosporum. If, in Antiquity, it was given therapeutic or even aphrodisiac qualities, the Périgord truffle is today mainly used in cooking. It is indeed very popular with gourmets for its recognizable taste contribution.

Harvesting black truffles in the Dordogne valley

The harvest or digging (the search for the truffle) takes place from mid-November to mid-March in the truffle fields of Dordogne, from Sarlat to Sorges via Montignac-Lascaux.

Truffle grower Michel Lassimouillas© Luc Fauret

Scavenging with a dog or a pig 

The pigs are abandoned in favor of dogs trained to find truffles in a truffle patch. Once he spots one, he scratches the ground. This is when the “caveur” comes in: the truffle grower digs the earth with a “cavadou” or truffle pick. This instrument allows him to very delicately extract the black diamond. The harvest takes place in the morning or evening.

“On-brand” research

Some use another technique “on the mark” to find the truffles. You just need to spot small bumps on the surface of the earth which are formed by the growth of truffles. This requires observation and practice, but this method is also used in the Dordogne valley.  

On the trail of the fly

And do you know the fly of the genus Suillia? If you follow it, it can also tell you the presence of this dear mushroom. In fact, it lands not far from a truffle to lay its eggs. So if you are present in the Périgord on a sunny winter weekend, you can try your luck, even if this technique is much more random than the previous ones!

Everything you need to know about Périgord truffles

Good to know :

 You can plan a visit to a truffle farm with the Périgord Welcome agency, during your stay. The truffle ecomuseum in Sorges-et-Ligueux-en-Périgord also offers activities and tastings of truffle products.

Where to buy Périgord truffles?

If you don't have the patience or the time or the right to collect truffles (because yes it is regulated), there are favorite places in the Dordogne valley to find them: the farmers markets ! 

The Dordogne markets

The market season begins every year in mid-December. You have until the end of February to do your shopping in a spirit of sharing and good humor. And don't be afraid of not knowing anything about it: truffle growers will give you all the tips for recognizing a quality truffle.

This is a good way to combine tourism and gastronomy. The market takes place in the morning, you can then visit one of these typical villages of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.

  • Sainte-Alvère truffle market
  • Montignac-Lascaux truffle market 
  • Sarlat truffle market

And in the Lot: 

  • Lalbenque truffle market: every Tuesday from the 1st Tuesday in December until mid-March;
  • Martel truffle market – Gras fair;

During these markets, you can watch the truffles being sorted by experts. This allows you to better understand the mysterious universe of Tuber Melanosporum ! The truffle growers explain the digging in the truffle field, but also the best recipes to enhance the product.

Other places for the sale of Périgord truffles

If your stay does not coincide with the market period, you can find Périgord truffles in stores all year round. Producer boutiques await you at Buggy or to Montignac-Lascaux

And if you particularly like Périgord truffles, go to Sarlat which becomes the truffle capital, for a weekend in mid-January. From morning to evening, events celebrate this extraordinary product. Périgueux also has its truffle festival! 

How to choose a beautiful Périgord truffle?

First clue: is the truffle ripe?

When the truffle is ripe, it is a beautiful black color. But for it to be perfect, it must also be streaked with white veins. If you are presented with a gray or white truffle, you can leave it aside: it is not ripe. Be careful, if she is completely black, that is not a good sign either: she has had a cold.

Second clue: is the nose clean?

The earth can hide imperfections: do not hesitate to favor truffles that are brushed. 

Third clue: is the nose firm?

Once you have observed the appearance of the truffle, you can touch it: it should be firm under your fingers. If it is too soft, that is not a good sign: it must have frozen.

Fourth clue: does truffle smell good?

It's time to smell the truffle and feel its very particular, recognizable aroma. Do not hesitate to ask the truffle grower about the possibility of smelling.

Truffle - Périgord product

Good to know :

 size and external appearance are not indicators to take into account for the quality of Périgord truffles.

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