Foraging for black truffles in Southern Illinois provides a task enjoyed by mycologists and chefs. These esteemed mushrooms offer a rich taste, complimenting a number of culinary dishes. Truffles grow beneath the soil and are dependent upon the roots of certain trees such as oaks, pines and firs. Black truffles are renown as a rare mushroom, predominantly cultivated in France and Italy; however, Southern Illinois forests are landscaped with the same types of trees, offering the potential for black truffle growth.
Mark you calendar on a rainy day. Count 10 to 14 days later and notate your calendar for potential black truffle foraging. Choose a humid day when the soil is moist within the 10 to 14-day time span to search for mushrooms.
Pack the rake, trowel, paper bags and gardening gloves. Visit a forested area such as Shawnee National Park in Harrisburg, Illinois. Look for pine, fir and oak trees in the forested area because truffles grow in a symbiotic relationship with such trees.
Scan the forest floor at the base of the trees. Look for pits that have been dug by small rodents like squirrels or chipmunks. This indicates that an animal has been digging for food in that area and there is a chance that black truffles could be present.
Put your gardening gloves on. Rake the immediate area around fresh pits to expose any truffles at the base of the tree. Dig about three inches into the soil to expose the truffles.
Get close to the ground, as truffles are difficult to detect because of their small size. Pull the black truffles upward from the ground. Put the black truffles in the paper bag.
Label the bag with the date and place that you found the black truffles. Consult an expert in mycology before ingesting the truffles, to make sure they are not a poisonous mushroom instead of a truffle.
Things You Will Need
- Small gardening rake
- Gardening trowel
- Gardening gloves
- Paper bags