It's white truffle season and MALIA WOLLAN tells us how best to find them in The NYT magazine Click here to read full story:

‘‘Hunt at night,’’ Matteo Gatti says. During white truffle season (mid-September through December), Gatti and his fungus-sniffing dogs walk the Italian countryside from midnight until morning, seven days a week. In the daytime, other truffle hunters crowd the landscape crying, ‘‘Cerca, cerca!’’ (‘‘search’’) to their excitable dog packs. ‘‘When the sun is out, there are too many other smells in the forest,’’ says Gatti, 44. Always wear a headlamp and attach LED lights to your dogs’ collars — ‘‘that way you can see where the dog goes when he is deep in the bushes.’’

Don’t leave the digging to your dog; even a trained one will mar the delicate lumps. Once a dog indicates it has detected the earthy funk of a mature truffle, use the small, trowel-like tool that Italians call avanghettoto unearth it. The first truffles to mature — at which point their scent becomes detectable by dogs — will be near the surface, but as winter progresses you will need to dig deeper to find ripe specimens.

On a good night, Gatti might find $5,000 worth of the mottled, cream-colored fungi, which are prized for their rich flavor and scarcity. Unless you plan to eat them all yourself, sell your truffles immediately. Once disinterred, they rapidly lose water weight. In Italy, brokers are currently paying about $185 to $195 an ounce for the highest-quality finds. Last year, Gatti dug up a 4.16-pound white truffle near his home in Umbria that later sold at Sotheby’s for $61,250. But don’t do this for the money. ‘‘The truffle is a passion,’’ Gatti says, ‘‘and you need that passion to find them.’’

If the sun comes up and you’re empty-handed, or if you find yourself exhausted after months of graveyard-shift hours, remember that at least you have a dog to work with. Men like Gatti’s grandfather relied on the snouts of unruly and insubordinate hogs. ‘‘Pigs just want to eat the truffles,’’ Gatti says. ‘‘Dogs are much easier to work with.’’ He owns six lagotto romagnolos, the preferred canine breed for the job. ‘‘If you are just starting out, get an expert dog,’’ he says. ‘‘A dog can teach its owner to find truffles.’’

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