Truffle Hunting Fun with Frank Siffert in Yverdon-Les-Bains Region
Recently we had the opportunity to go truffle hunting in Switzerland in the beautiful area around Yverdon-Les-Bains in the Canton of Vaud.
Our guide was truffle expert Frank Siffert from La Sauvageraie in Bonvillars, not far from Yverdon. Frank has been interested in truffles for many years and explained that if you know what you’re looking for, you can find truffles all over Switzerland. Yes, even in Zurich, he told us!
All Types of Truffles To Be Found in Switzerland
Switzerland is home to numerous varieties of truffles fom all over Europe. If you you’re in an area with limestone soil and searching in the right locations, you can find everything from black truffles to white Alba truffles.
The truffle is a fungus, similar to a mushroom and it takes around eight months in the soil to reach maturity and an average weight of 30 to 50 grams. Truffles grow best in soil which gets some light rain and is rich in limestone and potassium with low levels of phosphorous and nitrogen. Ideally the soil should be aerated but not too permeable and be moist and humid even in the dry months.
Truffle Hunting with a Truffle Dog
Frank Siffert has his own “truffière” where he plants and grows his own truffles. However, he told us that you can also find truffles in park land, woods and other places where there are plenty of trees. Good trees to look out for are linden trees, hazelnuts, oaks, birches and pine trees.
We went for a truffle hunt along with Frank’s dog Lulu and event though we weren’t successful on our brief foray into the woods, we did get a feel for what is involved. The truffles are usually found at the foot of the trees but they can be buried quite deeply, sometimes up to 50 centimetres underground.
Although a truffle dog like Lulu can lead you to a spot where she can smell the scent of a truffle, it may be that it is just a spore and not worth digging up or it may be hidden at some depth. The dog is not able to dig the truffle out as if it were to do so, it could easily damage the truffle.
There are various species of truffle including – aestivum, melanosporum and magnatum types. Each is harvested at a different time of the year and each has a specific taste and scent. Once you have found your truffle it will keep for up to 10 – 14 days if you wrap it in kitchen towel and place in the fridge in an airtight box (don’t use cling film or plastic or it will sweat and go off!). Truffles can also be frozen but may lose some of their aroma in the process.
Back at Frank’s house at La La Sauvageraie he and his wife Annie prepared some wonderful truffle dishes for us to enjoy. To begin we had slices of crusty bread spread with home made truffle butter and decorated with fine slices of truffle. This was followed by scrambled egg with truffle and was absolutely delicious.
The only ingredients used were eggs, full cream and truffles along with a dash of salt flakes! It was absolutely divine! We washed it down with a glass of Frank’s own organic Chasselas wine which he grows in the vineyards a short distance from his house.
Next up we had a dish of buckwheat pasta served with a truffle sauce and decorated with generous shavings of truffle. It was sublime and all the better for being accompanied by Frank’s red Pinot Noir which again is an organic wine from his own vines.
I’ve never had truffle in a dessert before but Annie prepared a truffle cream mixed with local wild strawberries and home made meringue, decorated with delicate truffle shavings.
All in all it was a fabulous lunch and one which I will remember for a long time.
Bonvillars Annual Truffle Market – Last Saturday in October
Bonvillars is well known for its truffle market which Frank founded a number fo years ago and which usually takes place on the last Saturday in October every year. This year (all being well) the Bonvillars Truffle Market is due to take place on Saturday 30th October 2021. See details here.
Price of Truffles
Like gold, the price of truffles (or black gold as they are often referred to) fluctuates. It depends on a number of factors from the variety, time of year, the condition and perceived value in the market place at any one time. However, as Frank pointed out, if you compare the prices of truffles to meat, they are actually not as expensive as you think!
Frank organises Truffle Hunts in the region of Yverdon-Les-Bains as well as Truffle Cooking Courses and he also can train truffle dogs.
Address: Rue des Juifs 10 à 1427 Bonvillars
Tel: 079 210 75 41
You can find out more about La Sauvageraie at the website here.
There is also more information on the TruffeSuisse.ch website.
For more information on the truffle walks in the region please visit the Yverdon-Les-Bains Tourism website here.
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tip: wrap the truffle in kitchen paper and put it in an airtight box with a few eggs for 2 days or