Oregon Black Truffles

A basketful of clinkers?

If you were a forties child you would know that a clinker is the rock like refuse cleaned from a coal burning furnace. Head hillbilly was appointed that chore as child. But these are not clinkers, and so, soooo, much more interesting in that fine cuisine restaurants will pay an upwards of $250 a pound for these beauties. Skip the beauty part. They look like potatoes long forgotten in my pantry and thus petrified. It could happen.

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These are geniune Oregon Black Truffles. Much sought after and elusive, for the untrained hunter. That would be me. This morning actually. Feverishly digging in the early wee hours in the woods, alone.
Well, cept’ for Jack, my not so trusty canine companion.
And he weren’t no help a’tall!

It all started because of a little outing with my daughter that included attending a meeting for the Oregon
small Woodland Owners Coop last night. I knew as a busy young mother she would be due for a night out. Oh how my evil mind works! We both actually enjoyed it though.

Last nights topic was about non-timber forest products. Eric Jones,Ph.D. of the Institute For Culture and Ecology brought Oregon white and black truffles. The black being a more pungent truffle that is reminiscent of blue cheese or a strong brie. It will readily lend it’s earthy character to whatever food it is blended or infused with. An amazing homely little fungus if ever there was one.

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The inside of the black truffle can be mostly black with white veining, or creamy white with dark veining like what we observed last night. The most efficient method of harvesting truffles long ago was with the help of a pigs snout. Their high sense of smell helped the hunter locate their booty. The pig however, could quickly devour the precious truffle in a blink of an eye in their zealousness. ( Dear PIg, I feel the same way about a tin of danish butter cookies.) So, one of your hunting attributes would have to include pig wrestling. Hence, the introduction to using trained dogs in truffle hunting.

I employed an alternate method recommended by Eric for the truffle novice.. And that is to just look for disrupted earth near the preferred area ( a tell tale sign of a critter in search of truffles) and with your hand, disturbing as little earth as possible, scratch down a few inches into the duff (decaying vegetation on the forest floor). Hopefully you will receive your prize. Not so for me today.
So I am still on the hunt for the aristocratic caviar of the forest.

Wish me luck fellow trufflers.

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