It’s Black Truffle Season!

Since November, the black truffle season has begun and will last until March.

While the Périgord region in Southwest France is often hailed as “the” place for black truffles, the truth is that Vaucluse, from Ventoux to Luberon, produces 70% of these special mushrooms, known as “Tuber Melanosporum.”

The Joy of Truffle Hunting

Experience the thrill of truffle hunting with a local hunter and his dog. This process, known as “cavage,” involves searching for truffles, or “rabasse,” guided by a “rabassier” (hunter). We know the last hunter in the region who still practices this in the wild, rather than on plantations, offering a more authentic experience. The truffle’s pungent aroma might surprise you at first!

Simple Preparation

Truffles are best enjoyed with simple preparations:

  • Grated on scrambled eggs or fresh pasta
  • On a green salad
  • Thinly sliced on toast (with the sacred order: toast + butter + a slice of black truffle + sea salt + a drop of olive oil)

Truffle Markets

The second highlight is attending the professional outdoor markets:

  • Every Friday morning at 9 AM in Carpentras (Hotel Dieu)
  • Every Saturday morning in Richerenches village (northwest of Ventoux)

These are the most famous black truffle markets in France, where dealers, restaurateurs, and enthusiasts gather. It’s fascinating to watch the animated discussions about market prices, rarity, and quality.

Truffle transactions are unique, as they are typically conducted in cash, un-declared, and legal. Sellers often operate from the back of their cars with electronic scales. Deals can also occur in nearby cafes by appointment. While professional sellers aren’t supposed to sell to individuals, you can often find similar prices and quantities at the individual market in front of the tourism office.

At 9 AM, the inner courtyard of Hotel Dieu opens, and professional buyers and sellers enter a fenced area to negotiate. The entire sale process is quick, lasting about 30 minutes. For the best experience, attend mid-November for the official season start, which includes a procession by the black truffle fellowship (“Confrérie des Rabassiers du Comtat”).

Tips for Buying Truffles

  • Bigger truffles aren’t necessarily tastier; they just look impressive.
  • Truffles should be firm, with a powerful but pleasant smell.
  • Grate a bit to check for white veins, indicating it hasn’t frozen.
  • Ensure it’s cleaned; you don’t want to pay for dirt.

Truffles are at their best in February when they are fully ripe. Prices range from 500 to 900 euros, depending on quality and demand.

Storage and Cooking Tips

Store truffles in an airtight container in the fridge and consume them within a few days. Freezing is not recommended, but if you do, grate them immediately upon removal.

Pro Tip: Keep a few eggs in an airtight container with your truffles for a night or two. The eggs will absorb the truffle aroma, making your omelets or scrambled eggs taste like truffle without any actual truffle inside.

Enjoy the rich and unique flavors of black truffle season in Provence!