Did you know ancient Romans believed truffles had aphrodisiac, therapeutic, and medicinal properties? Truffles, also known as the diamonds of the kitchen, are among the world’s most elusive and rarest fungi and take years to mature. While the warty fungus has become popular in the culinary world in recent years, it has been around for centuries, with the earliest truffle recipe dating back to 400AD. Truffles are prized because of their rarity, elusive taste, hunting method, and worldly nature. Whether you want to taste this delicacy on your favorite fries or ice cream, the fragrant fungi taste will leave your taste buds craving more.
What is a truffle?
Truffles are edible fungi like mushrooms that take up to 10 years to mature and can weigh close to a pound. Unlike mushrooms, truffles grow underground in symbiosis with the roots of trees such as hornbeam and oaks. Undomesticated truffles are found in Mediterranean climates such as New Zealand, Italy, France, and Australia. Although several truffle species exist, the Tuber melanosporum (black truffle) and Tuber mangnatum (white truffles) are the most common.
Truffles are among the most expensive fungi globally because they are elusive, have a rich taste, and take close to a decade to mature. Suppose you want to enjoy the earthy aroma without emptying your bank account. In that case, you can purchase everyday products made with truffles, such as truffle cheese, truffle sea salt, truffle honey, truffle tapenade, truffle flour, and truffle butter. If you are cooking using fresh truffles, use a small portion because the aroma is pretty strong, so a little will go a long way in flavoring your meal.
Because the orchard of the truffle is underground, growers use pigs and trained dogs to harvest them. Trained dogs can easily trace the fungi flavor underground, while pigs are attracted to truffles because they emit a scent similar to porcine pheromones that are attractive to female pigs.
When is truffle season?
Truffles have a unique natural flavor that any other product cannot match. If you plan to enjoy these fragrant fungi flavors, knowing their peak seasons can help you get truffles at their strongest flavors. The good news is that you can enjoy truffles almost all year round because different types of peak at different seasons. The white truffles are in season from September to around December.
The black truffles are the most common because you can find them during winter and summer. You can find the black winter truffles in plenty between November and April because they peak around New Year. The black summer truffles are available between May and September, so you have something to enrich your dishes with a unique aroma until the white truffle peak around September.
Black and white (truffles)
While there are over 200 known truffle species worldwide, black and white truffles are the most common.
The white truffle is more aromatic and has a more robust flavor. Though stronger in flavor, white truffles lose the aroma under heat and are more enjoyed when raw. They are commonly used as a garnish or shaved over a dish, such as pasta. The white truffle is a native fungus in the northern parts of Italy. You can also find the white truffle in other parts of Europe, including Serbia, France, and Slovenia.
The black truffles contain an earthy, rich aroma and are relatively less expensive than the white truffles. Black truffles are suitable for home use because they retain their unique flavor when heated. You can use black truffles to prepare sauce, butter, and risottos. Black truffle traces its origin to native France. In recent years, the warty fungus has been cultivated in many countries, including Chile, the United States, Spain, New Zealand, and Italy.