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Cultivation of Truffles.-The truffle may only be grown in the midst of very favorable conditions of climate, altitude, mellowness of the soil, moisture, and proper shade. The planting of truffle trees serves as a vehicle for the spores which are later to give birth to the mycelium which itself produces the truffle. The spores of the truffles usually reach the forests in which they are grown by natural means without being particularly planted. Sometimes, however, the spores are carried directly to the soil where the new crop is to be grown.
Geographic Distribution.-The truffle, like the mushroom, is spread over all parts of the earth. In Europe it is especially abundant in France and Italy. The provinces in France where it grows in greatest abundance are Provence, Dauphiné, Languedoc, and Périgord.
Principal Varieties.-The varieties of truffles are not so numerous as mushrooms, of which perhaps a thousand different varieties are known, but still they are sufficiently numerous. One of those frequently cultivated in France is known as truffles of Périgord (Tuber melanosporum Vittad.). It grows best under the shade of a growing walnut or a young oak. The tubers of these plants, which are the part valuable for food, may weigh from 60 to 500 grams. Other botanical varieties which are much cultivated are Tuber brumale Vittad., Tuber æstivum Mich., Tuber magnatum Vittad:, and many others.
Harvesting of Truffles.—The truffle comes into production from the sixth to the tenth year after planting the appropriate forest trees. It is easy to determine the year when the harvest should begin, since during the preceding year there is found in the soil some hypogaan mushrooms which may be considered as precursors of the truffles. Moreover, the soil under the tree becomes practically free of all vegetation. The truffle ripens from November to April, according to its variety. It is important that it should not be harvested except at the period of complete maturity. For harvesting purposes certain animals are made use of, such as the dog and hog. These animals have a delicate smell in these matters and only bring out of the soil the ripe truffles while they leave the others. Man is not able to make this nice distinction, and harvests all indiscriminately, from which there results great financial loss. In the harvesting of truffles the ground should be gone over about once in eight days in order that the tubercles may be secured during the whole winter at the proper time of maturity. When the truffles are developed the soil above them is hilled or cracked, especially after rains. These are the places which are selected for the harvesting when it is done by the hand of man.
Harvesting by Means of Flies.-When the weather is warm and clear there is seen above the place where the tubers are lying, a multitude of flies,-these mark the place where the harvest should be made. The best time for this kind of a harvest is about nine o'clock in the morning. Good results are not obtainable from this sign except when the sun rises clear and becomes
afterward warm. In order to find the flies the husbandman stoops down near the surface of the soil and looks horizontally over it. The colonies of flies are thus easily distinguished, and below each one of these colonies the truffles are found. This is also an ineffective method because only the overripened tubercles attract the flies while those in their very prime are not thus marked.
Harvesting with Hogs.-The utilization of hogs for harvesting purposes is by far the best and most economical method. It is employed especially in Périgord and Midi. The harvesting can be either in the morning or afternoon. The hogs which are used for harvesting should be previously well fed in order to prevent them from eating the truffles which they dig out of the ground. Each animal is led with a rope. As soon as the hog gets the scent of truffles it pounces upon them and rapidly uncovers them with its snout. When the weather is favorable a hog can easily smell a truffle at a distance of 150 feet. As soon as the animal has brought the truffle to the surface instead of allowing him to eat it he should be recompensed by giving him some suitable food such as maize. If this little attention is neglected the animal soon becomes discouraged and refuses to work any longer. Before leaving the spot the hog assures himself that no other truffles are contained in that neighborhood. When the hog becomes very tired he walks very slowly and with his mouth open. It is then necessary to give him a period of rest before continuing the harvest. If the search for truffles does not bring good results the animal becomes morose, indolent, and refuses to obey. Sometimes when the hog is hungry and wants to eat the truffles it is necessary to give him a smart blow on the snout with a stick. A special race of hogs is used in this harvesting whose parents have also possessed the skill, and thus it becomes hereditary. A good hog is able to engage in the harvesting from the age of two to 25 years but they do their best work at three or four years. A single animal may be able to harvest from six to 40 pounds of truffles per day, according to their abundance in the soil. This class of hogs have a very high value, and are often sold in the south of France for this sole purpose at from $30.00 to $70.00 per head.
Harvesting with the Dog.-The dog is also employed in regions where truffles are produced, and especially in those regions where the yield is not so great and where the area to be gone over is very large. The dog is used especially in the Dauphiné, Champagne, Bourgogne, Provence, and Languedoc, and also in the neighborhood of Paris. These dogs are trained, as in the case of hogs, especially for this purpose and should be rewarded when a find is made, in the same manner as the hog. This recognition of their services should never be forgotten if animals of the greatest skill are to be secured. The dog, as is the case with the hog, locates the truffles by the scent and digs with his four paws until the truffles are laid bare,—the husbandman
then draws them out of the soil with long forceps. The hog is preferable to the dog because it does the whole harvesting itself, whereas in the case of the dog the husbandman must finish the operation.
The yield of the truffle farm is naturally extremely valuable, varying with the relative abundance of growth and character of the soil itself. Sometimes the yield drops as low as five pounds per acre and sometimes rises as high as 70 pounds per acre. The average price of truffles is $2.00 per pound. The largest yield is found in the truffle farms from the tenth to the twentieth year.
Properties of Truffles.-It is difficult to describe the properties of truffles. They are, when prepared for the table, black, rather firm in flesh, and have a distinct and most agreeable odor and taste. A good truffle is extremely firm and resists the ordinary pressure of the finger. If it is soft it shows that it is lacking in its best characteristic.
The size of the truffle has a marked influence upon its value because the small truffle loses a large part of its weight in the preparation for eating. Truffles of good size are those which weigh from 40 to 50 grams, those of first choice weighing from 60 to 100 grams. After the truffle passes 100 grams in weight the increased weight does not proportionately increase the value. The truffles which come from light soil are considered superior to those which come from rich soil. If the soil contains a large quantity of iron the truffles are usually of finer quality. All truffles are not black, though the best ones, like those of Périgord, are black. Others are gray or brown.
Adulteration of Truffles.-Commerce in truffles is the subject of considerable fraud on account of the very high price of the genuine article. The principal adulterations are the mixture of the inferior or imperfect varieties with the choicest or best varieties. This adulteration is easily discovered by making a careful examination of the tubercles individually. Another fraud which is very much practiced is the introduction of soil into the cracks or crevices in order to increase their weight. This adulteration, of course, is easily discovered by anyone who prepares the truffles for the table. Another form of adulteration is the mingling with the ripe truffle of those which have not reached maturity. The unripe tubercles have very little flavor or taste and are thus easily distinguished from those which are mature. Also practiced is the pressing together with some kind of a glue of a number of smaller truffles in order to form a large mass, as if it were an entire truffle, and thus securing a larger price. This is also a fraud easily discovered. Still another form of sophistication is the production of artificial truffles made from potatoes and especially those which are partially spoiled which are colored in imitation of the truffle itself. Only those who are ignorant of the texture of the truffle can be deceived by this gross imitation. Another form of adulteration is the sale of the truffle coming from regions less esteemed
for their products for those of other more esteemed regions as for instance, the sale of truffles from Sarladais or from Domme for those of Périgord.
Preservation of the Truffle During Transit.-For the purpose of keeping truffles in good condition during transit they may be placed in moss, fine sand, or powdered chalk. They can be kept in this way for a few days during transit, but should not be long preserved in this manner. Truffles may also be preserved indefinitely by sterilization. It is necessary to do this whenever they are to be sent over long distances or kept for a long time. The methods of sterilizing are not different from those described for ordinary vegetables. Truffles are also preserved by desiccation, but in this case they lose something of their odor and taste and are not so highly esteemed. Finally the truffles are sometimes preserved by cooking them and preserving them in wine or olive oil. (Raymond Brunet, "Manuel Pratique de la Culture des Champignons et de la Truffe.")
Food Value of Fungi.-While the mushroom and the truffle are the principal fungi used as food they are by no means the only kinds. Their value, as has already been indicated, is rather condimental than nutritive. Those, however, who have eaten fresh or well preserved mushrooms or truffles, cooked in the best style of the culinary art, are fully acquainted with their value. The fear of poisoning does much to restrict the use of the wild mushThe fields and forests are full of many varieties of these fungi, especially in the autumn. Very few of the varieties are poisonous, but the conservative gourmand hesitates to consume the fruits of his own activity as a collector. In the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Harper's Ferry I have seen large areas of the forest almost covered with these growths in August and September, but the courage leading to their consumption was wanting.
SUGAR, SIRUP, CONFECTIONERY,
The term "sugar" is applied by common consent to the pure sugar commercially prepared from the sugar cane and the sugar beet. These two kinds of sugar are sometimes designated by their own name, as, for instance, the purchaser will ask for cane sugar or beet sugar. When no other name appears the term sugar is applied as above.
In Europe the principal sugar used is that derived from the sugar beet. In the United States the principal sugar is that derived from the sugar cane. Notable quantities of sugar are also found in commerce derived from the maple tree, a small quantity from sorghum, and in Asia a considerable quantity is made from the palm.
Chemically, sugar belongs to the class of bodies known as sucrose or saccharose and is a compound in a pure state consisting solely of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, typical of that class of foods of which starch is the most important member, known as carbohydrates. The elements mentioned are combined in sugar in the proportion of 12 parts of carbon, 22 of hydrogen, and 11 of oxygen.
The quantity of sugar consumed by the people of the United States is very large. Excluding molasses, honey, and sirups the quantity consumed in the United States in the year ending December 31, 1905, was 2,632,216 tons. There should be added to this the total quantity of sugar found in the articles of diet which are so common in this country in the form of honey, sirups, and molasses.
Origin of Sugar.-In the earliest times practically the only sugar which was used by man was that stored by the bees, namely, honey. The sugar cane is indigenous to Asia and was not known as a source of sugar in Europe until the 13th or 14th century, when it was brought by Eastern merchants to Europe. The discovery of America and the introduction of sugar cane into the islands adjacent thereto opened up a new field for the culture of that plant and laid the foundation of the great industry which followed. It was