A “MUSHROOM” NOT ONLY FOR GOURMETS
They don’t actually look very nice, more like small wrinkled potatoes, but can cost up to €15,00 per kg. Freshness is certainly the main criterion for a good truffle, and long transport or storage times allow the fine ingredients to evaporate very quickly. Therefore, the motto is, the fresher the truffles are on the plate, the more delicious they taste.
The truffle search is not that easy and the precious treasures are extremely difficult to find. It takes a truffle hunter many years of practice to find good amounts of truffles. For a long time and to the amazement of tourists, wild boars were the only animals and means to finding the sought after truffles. The problem was that they ate a large part of the truffles before revealing their find to the collectors, and this is one of the reasons why they are no longer used. Today, the undisputed star of the hunt is the easily trained dog and with its strong sense of smell, it can discover the exact point where this incredible natural product grows.
TRUFFLES HAVE A LONG HISTORY!
There are some types of truffles that have been known around since 3,000 BC. In ancient times they were popular with the Greeks and Romans as an aphrodisiac and for many years were considered a symbol of wealth. Only kings and emperors could afford this special tuber. Today they are coveted as a gourmet tuber and a popular delicacy in almost every country in the world, where truffle lovers are fascinated by the smell of a high-quality truffle.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A TRUFFLE?
The truffle is a type of mushroom that grows underground, more precisely, the noble tuber is the spore-bearing fruit of a mushroom that grows about 5-20 cm below the ground. The fungal network, also called mycelium, lives in symbiosis with a host plant; it means that it always grows in relationship with a tree and that’s why for finding truffles you need to go into the forest.
Because the truffle organism only develops underground, the truffles need the help of animals to reproduce. Most truffles are dug up and eaten by wildlife such as deer or wild boar. After the spores have passed through their digestive tracts, they are often excreted miles away from their origin and so help to probagate. Only when the spores are ripe do truffles trigger odor signals, which is why animals can only find ripe truffles.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND DETERMINE THE PRICE!
Around 140 species of the genus Tuber, i.e. the real truffle, are known worldwide, but only a few have a culinary significance to be highly valued as a delicacy. Supply and demand determine the price, so the prices of truffles fluctuate from year to year. Dry periods lead to a lower yield, and prices rise accordingly.
THE MOST POPULAR TRUFFLES:
Italian White Truffle – Tuber magnatum
Winter Black Truffle – Tuber melanosporum
Burgundy Black Truffle – Tuber uncinatum
Summer Black Truffle – Tuber aestivum
Bianchetti Truffle – Tuber borchii
Muscat Truffle – Tuber brumale
ITALIAN WHITE TRUFFLE
The winter white truffle (Tuber magnatum) sometimes called Alba truffle or Piedmont white truffle is the most expensive and rarest of all mushrooms. The queen of truffles is achieving record prices and gourmets are willing to pay between 1500 and € 5,000 per kg. Its high status as the ultimate luxury food is not unfounded, as it offers an impeccable scent and flavor, incomparable to any other truffle variety.
The Alba truffle can be found in the well-known Piedmont area, on the Balkan peninsulas, in Istria and in southern France. The season starts mid-September and runs through December/ January. The white truffle has a very strong smell and a subtle taste. It smells pleasantly sweet, although the taste is actually difficult to describe, but commonly described as slightly garlicky with a deep musky aroma.
For others, it has an earthy to nutty, sweet note, but however it tastes, it goes very well with pasta, rice, meat or fish. Since the smell evaporates when heated, the white truffle is never cooked. It unfolds its aroma best if you grate it raw over the dish after cooking. Do not cut the individual slices too thick so that they do not become greasy and can develop their full aroma.
WINTER BLACK TRUFFLE
The second-finest truffle is the winter black truffle (Tuber melanosporum) sometimes also called Périgord truffle or French black truffle. Here, the price ranges between 1,000 and € 1,500 per kg. The most valued black noble tuber is widespread today and cultivated all over the world.
The truffle region of the Périgord truffle is more limited to the Mediterranean climate zone, with the most common locations being Northern Spain, Northern Italy and Southern France. The black truffle has a lot of taste and far less fragrance. Since the taste is not fleeting, but rather is passed on to the other ingredients, it is ideal for cooking with fish, meat and stewed dishes. Black truffles are eaten both raw and cooked.
The season starts in early December and ends in mid-March. After buying truffles it should be consumed as soon as possible as truffles that are more than three days old lose a little of their aroma every day. After 10-14 days, they have almost no aroma. If you want to store them for a few days or if there is something left over, it is best to store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator.