Top Things Wondered About Truffles
Here we have gathered everything you need to know about truffles, which are indispensable in the menus of world- famous chefs to make a show of power, documentaries shot, loaded with mythological meanings and crowned with the most special titles!
What is Truffle?
Truffle is a type of mushroom although its appearance and the way it grows is different from the mushrooms we are used to. Truffles can be scientifically explained as one of the dozens of species of the Tuber genus, which belongs to the Fungus family. Truffles that grow close to tree roots and underground usually found close to the roots of oak trees.
Where are Truffles found?
The homeland of this mushroom species, which grows in a quite narrow geography, is the Mediterranean. Commonly associated with France and Italy, they can also be found in New Zealand, China, North Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific Northwest.
How long has it been known?
The first mention of truffle mushrooms is in the 20th century BC. It was mentioned in an archive text belonging to Sumerians in which the eating habits of their enemies in Mesopotamian region were described. Later, in the 4th century BC, we see the truffle again in the writings of the Greek naturalist, philosopher and plant biologist Theophrastus. Myths and supernatural reasons have been shown about how this nutritious food with strong aroma came into being. Although its discovery dates back to before the common era, the use of truffles in kitchens did not spread until the Renaissance period.
Do Truffle Mushrooms look and taste different?
Although there are many types of truffles, there are 4 most preferred species in gastronomy. These are Black Winter Truffle (Tuber Melanosporum), Burgundy Truffle (Tuber Uncinatum), Black Summer Truffle (Tuber Aestivum) and White Truffle (Tuber Magnatum). We have analysed these four types closely for you to know the truffle will use;
Black Winter Truffle (Tuber Melanosporum): It has a round and dark brown body with pyramid-shaped black-brown spikes, but these tips are not sharp. The inside is grainy and dark in colour. The size of this species is 10 cm on average. It is the type with the most intense aroma among all black truffles and has a sharp earthy, strawberry and cocoa flavour.
Burgundy Truffle (Tuber Uncinatum): this truffle takes its name from Burgundy, France, where it was discovered and famous. Its dark brown outer surface has tiny diamond-shaped bumps. The veined structure inside is lighter in colour. Although its dimensions are similar to the Black Winter Truffle, its colour is lighter. The aroma it has is a strong mixture of caramel, soil and hazelnut.
Black Summer Truffle (Tuber Aestivum): The outer surface is rough but black in colour. Unlike the other types, summer truffles do not have a grainy structure inside and their colour is between dark cream and light brown. It is known to be lighter and tastier than Black Winter and Burgundy Truffles. Its aroma is reminiscent of hazelnut and caramel.
White Truffle (Tuber Magnatum): Has a smooth, thin and yellowish surface. Its internal structure is marble-like in white and red brown tones. It is distinguished from other truffle mushrooms with its garlic-like taste and musk-like, astringent aroma.
Why are the seasons important?
Truffle mushroom is not a type of mushroom grown under human control like a cultivated mushroom. Therefore, each truffle type is collected only during certain months of the year. You can get the most successful combination of taste and fragrance from fresh truffles, so it is important to know which truffle you can buy in which season. If you prefer White Truffle (Tuber Magnatum), you can find and consume it from October to December, and for Black Winter Truffle (Tuber Melanosporum) starting from November till the end of February. You can prefer Burgundy Truffle (Tuber Uncinatum) from September to December and Black Summer Truffle (Tuber Aestivum) from May to September.
What is Truffle Hunting?
As we mentioned before, truffle mushrooms are a wild species although they are cultivated and traded. It is almost impossible for humans to find and remove this underground fungus without damaging it. That’s why trained dogs come to the aid of people for this process. Dogs specially trained for truffle hunting determine their location by following the smell that truffle mushrooms naturally emit. Lagotto Romagnolo and Springer Spaniel are the most preferred dog breeds for truffle hunting. However, experts argue that almost any species will be suitable for truffle hunting with the right training.
Why is it so expensive?
The biggest difference between truffle mushrooms and cultivated mushrooms can be said that people cannot intervene in agriculture. Even if the oak trees in the region are grafted to obtain truffle mushrooms, it takes about 4 to 7 years for them to become adult trees. The truffle production life of each tree is an average of 30 years. In addition to these, you cannot interfere with the size, quality and number of truffle mushrooms you wish to grow. Considering all these, truffle cultivation is a highly laborious and risky business. In addition to geographical factors, the regional and global negativities that the truffle encountered during its historical journey have also been an important factor that increased its price and value.
The Ultimate Question: How do we use truffles in the kitchen?
The first thing to know is that you should not expose your truffles to heat. This means that it is not a good idea to use them in cooking. Using truffles in the cooking process kills the characteristic aroma and taste of truffles, so our recommendation is to add them before serving. We advise you to use it by slicing or grating with truffle grater on many dishes, especially pasta and risotto.