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Truffles are described as the body of different fungi which grow underground (hypogaic). The mycelia of these fungi enters a “relationship” (symbiosis) with the roots of other plants. This connection is called myco-rhizomed (ancient Greek: mycelia = fungi and “rhizome” = root). The reason for this is to supply the fungi mycelia with photosynthetic products which have been produced by the host plant. In exchange the host plant receives easier access to water and minerals which the mycelia receives from the ground via enzymes. Today scientists know around 240 different types of truffles of which very few are interesting for cooking purposes.

All these truffles have in common that the meat is firm, but not too hard. This can be checked by touching the truffle carefully without squeezing it too hard. Soft areas indicate that the truffle is overripe and we recommend removing this part with a knife. The remaining firm part should be consumed as quickly as possible.

In general tuber magnatum Pico and tuber melanosporum are considered to be the premium truffles. Tuber aestivum (unicinatum), tuber borchii and tuber brumale are all three delicious each in their own way, but cannot match the first two in taste and aroma. We want to describe these five interesting types of tuber in more detail.

In general truffles should be consumed as soon as possible. It is best to enjoy them the same day they were harvested. But since not everybody is fortunate enough to live in a truffle region it is necessary to store the precious tubers gently and transport them as quickly as possible in order to minimize the unavoidable loss of quality. Ideally truffles should be stored at a temperature between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius and placed inside an airtight container. Truffles should be wrapped in kitchen crepe paper and the paper should be changed twice a day because truffles “sweat” and it is important that this moisture is absorbed.

Most refrigerators function at a temperature between 5 and 8 degrees Celsius. Truffles should be stored at the bottom of the refrigerator inside the airtight container wrapped in crepe paper because this is the coldest area.

This way truffles can be stored for a certain length of time without too much loss of quality. In general black truffles can be stored a little longer than their white brothers and sisters. Tuber melanosporum, Tuber brumale and Tuber aestivum (uncinatum) can be stored about 10 to 14 days, tuber maganatum Pico and Tuber borchii about 7 – 10 days if the the above-mentioned conditions are observed.

 

Truffles Descriptions

Tuber MelanosporumSynonyms:
Perigord – truffle, winter – premium trufflel, “diamante noir”, “Tartufo nero de Norica”.

Harvest period:
December to February (Europe); June to August (New Zeeland, Australia).

Location:
Outside of their known locations in France and Italy, Tuber melanosporum can be found in the most parts of southern Europe like Spain, Greece and former Yugoslavia. New-Zeeland and Australia also have truffle plantation of which the quality is equal to the French truffles.

Description:
Asymmetric to round features with a hard, black-brown and sometimes reddish exterior skin (peridie). It is covered in numerous, small, pyramid shaped warts. The flesh (gleba) is brown to black depending on its maturity. It is covered in tiny white veins.

Aroma:
The aroma of the Perigord – truffle is strong, containing a variety of flavours which range from the taste of earth over dried fruit (strawberries) to cocoa and chocolate. Its taste is strong and poignant, sometimes even with a light peppery taste and occasionally with a delightful taste of nuts.

Usage:
Compared to their competitors Tuber magnatum Pico, the aroma and taste of the Perigord tuber prefers warmth. It is perfect for seasoning soups, sauces, pasta and meat dishes as well as improving backed dishes. However like with all the other truffle types it is the simple compositions that impress by adding the tasty complexity.

Tuber magnatum PicoSynonyms:
White Alba-Truffle, Piemont-Truffle, Langhe-truffle, “Neira lissa”, “Tartuffo bianco del Piemonte”.

Harvest period:
October to December.

Location:
The main location of Tuber magnatum Pico is in Italy. It ranges from Piemont to Abbruzie. But even outside of these regions we can find the sought-after mushroom. It runs along an invisible line south of the Alps through France, Italy down to Croatia, Slovenia and even in Hungary it has been found.

Description:
Uneven to a slightly roundish tuber with a smooth, white yellowish exterior skin (peridie) which goes into ochre to a light brown coloration. The marbled fungi meat (gleba) which is has countless fine, white veins is white-yellowish at the beginning of maturity and darkens later throughout the process into an ochre to light brown color which can sometimes even reach reddish-brown tones.

Aroma:
The aroma of tuber magnatum Pico is so unique that one has to have experienced it at least once in a lifetime to be able to comprehend this. Truffle experts often describe it as a pleasantly strong and potent aroma with slight tones of garlic and fermented cheese. The taste is less intense than the odor implies and is often described as garlicky and nutty.

Usage:
Tuber magnatum Pico is generally used raw because the aroma evaporates rapidly during the cooking process. There are still a multitude of ways to consume it. Starting on delicious canapés, salads or eggs sunny-side up, scrambled or omelette varieties, over to classic pasta compositions there are no limits.

Tuber BrumaleSynonyms:
Winter-truffle, “Tartufo moscato”, “Truffe musquée”.

Harvest period:
December to March.

Location:
Southern Europe (Italy, France, Spain) but has also been discovered north of the Alps for example in Germany.

Description:
Asymmetric to roundish tuber with dark brown to black and sometimes almost reddish exterior skin (peridie). It is covered in numerous, small, pyramid shaped warts. The fungi-flesh (gleba) resembles that of its “older brother” Tuber melanosporum depending on the maturity, ranges from light brown to blackish colorations. The marbling however is much coarser than in Tuber melanosporum.

Aroma:
Its aroma is earthy and resembles Tuber melanosporum but is much less intensive and has a light scent of musk, garlic and nutmeg. The taste is described as pleasantly strong and earthy tasting over to peppery taste as well.

Usage:
Similar to Tuber aestivum and tuber melanosporum the tuber brumale is relatively heat resistant in taste and aroma. This means that it is perfect for usage with the majority of truffle recipes.
It adds taste to soups and sauces as well as pasta dishes or gives an extra “note” to simple scrambled eggs.

Tuber BorchiiSynonyms:
Spring / March truffle, “Bianchetto”, “Truffe blanchâtre”.

Harvest period:
January to April.

Location:
Tuber borchii can be found all of Europe from Finland to Sicily and from Ireland to Poland. The main harvesting current harvesting area in Italy. More recently large plantation can be found in New Zeeland.

Description:
Asymmetrical to roundish tuber with beige brown almost ochre coloured frequently with reddish spots and a smooth exterior skin (peridie). The fungi meat (gleba) is firm and becomes darker during the maturity process starting with light beige tones going over to reddish brown to light violet colorations. The gleba has a multitude of whitish veins.

Aroma:
The smell and taste is spicy and strong and resemble garlic.

Usage:
We recommend using Tuber borchii only raw like tuber magnatum due to the fast evaporation during the heating process and the dissipation of the aroma. It is best to use it with simple and classic truffle dishes like pasta, eggs sunny side up, scrambled and also for omelettes. It is recommended for recipes with spinach and quail eggs since these blend perfectly with the garlicky aroma of tuber borchii.

Tuber AestivumSynonyms:
Summer truffle, Burgundy truffle, “Truffe d’été” “Scrorzone”.

Harvest period:
June to October.

Location:
Southern part of middle Europe but has been found north of the Alps in Germany, Austria and even in Great-Britain.

Description:
Asymmetrical to roundish tuber with thin dark brown to black pyramid shaped warts on the exterior skin (peridie). The gleba is light brown to beige and is covered with a multitude of fine white-gray veins.

Aroma:
The odor is earthy – mushroom like and the taste is mild and dissipates fine mushroom or nut aromas.

Usage:
This tuber is relative heat consistent and may be cooked. The mushroom scent which is dissipated goes well with a large number of dishes and blends well with a majority of dishes together with herbs and spices. Starting with soups and chopped on top of creamy sauces over to classic pasta, egg and seafood dishes, tuber aestivum can be used in a large variety of menus.