Table of content A-Z

 

truffle

 

Botanical name: Tuber sp.

 

According to the variety, truffles are found in several countries. France is held to be a typical truffle country, followed by Italy. In France the most important regions are the Provence and Périgord; in Italy it is the area around the city of Alba, south of Turin. In Spain, truffles are also found in some parts of the mountainous east. In Germany, isolated truffles are occasionally found.

They grow preferably close to oaks, beeches and hornbeams, as well as lime trees and hazel-nut bushes.


Availability


We differentiate between summer and winter truffles. The former are available from May to August, the latter from October to December.


Appearance, taste, characteristics


The truffle is by far the most expensive edible mushroom. According to the variety, one gram of this delicacy can cost about 8 euros. The reasons for the exorbitant price are the slow growth, the rare occurrence, the expense of cultivation, and the time-consuming search for truffles.

Truffles do not have the classical appearance of other mushrooms; they have neither a stem nor a cap, but are bulbous and irregularly shaped like potatoes. And like the potato, they grow underground. Their size varies from that of a nut to that of a tennis ball. The thin, hard skin of the truffle adheres firmly to the flesh; it is rough, scarred and covered with flat tubercles. The flesh itself is firm but succulent. The colour of both the cap and the flesh differs with the given variety. Generally, we differentiate between white and black truffles. These in turn are subdivided into different varieties with different qualities. Some of the varieties are listed here:

* Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum)

This comes from southern France, more precisely from the Périgord region, which gave this truffle its name. It is one of the few truffles that can be cultivated and planted. The flesh is grey-black or reddish-black to brownish and violet and streaked with white veins. Thus when cut open, the truffle looks marbled.

* Piedmont truffle (Tuber magnatum pico)

This variety grows in Italy, in the region around the city of Alba. The Piedmont truffle belongs to the white varieties and is also called "the white gold". It is especially nutritious.

* Summer truffle (Tuber aestivum)

This is very similar to the Piedmont truffle but should not be confused with it, because the summer truffle is relatively tasteless and of low quality. This is the most common truffle in Germany.

* Winter truffle (Tuber brumata)

Like the Périgord truffle, this grows mainly in France and is only occasionally found in Germany. It is also of inferior quality.

As has already been mentioned, cultivation of the Périgord truffle has been successful. To this end, finely diced truffles or parts of the mycelium are buried – usually beneath oak trees – and then one waits until they enter into a symbiosis with the oak roots, a relationship known as mycorrhiza. This means that the mushroom grows together with the haustoria (food-absorbing roots) of the tree and promotes its uptake of water and nutrients. In exchange, the tree supplies the truffle with important organic compounds.

A new method of cultivating the truffle is to sow acorns or hazel-nuts under sterile conditions and to inoculate them after 3 months. For this the roots are cut into and covered with truffle spores. After approximately one year it is possible to see whether the inoculation was successful. This is the case when club-shaped bulbs form on the roots; this is a sure sign that the tree and the mushroom have formed a symbiosis, and the transplantation to natural conditions outside can take place. It then takes 6–10 years before truffles can be found.

Finding truffles growing underground requires experience. Good truffle searchers recognize from the appearance of the ground surface where truffles might be. Or specially trained dogs are used, as are pigs; the latter are not trained to search but they find the truffles with their natural instinct, because truffles contain androstenol, a hormone and odorous substance that is also contained in the sperm of boars. Searching with a pick is strenuous and inefficient, because the entire ground must be dug up, and this destroys the mycelium. Searching with the help of a genus of fly that lays its eggs in places where there are truffles is extremely time-consuming.


Ingredients


100 g contain:


Truffel, fresh
Energy (kcal)
48
Water (g)
68
Protein (g)
5,5
Fat (g)
< 1
Carbohydrates (g)
7,4
Fibre (g)
16,5
Vitamin B1 (μg)
100
Vitamin B2 (μg)
400
Niacin (NE) (mg)
5,3
Pantothenic acid (mg)
2,5
Biotin (μg)
15
Vitamin D (μg)
2
Potassium (mg)
526
Phosphorous (mg)
62
Iron (mg)
3,5



Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions


The different varieties of truffle are also of differing quality. The Périgord and Piedmont truffles are the most expensive and of the highest quality. While overripe truffles develop an unpleasant smell, the ripe mushrooms have a pleasant strong scent.

A fresh truffle remains firm for a long time and can be stored for about 14 days in a cool cellar room, covered with soil or sand, or in a tightly closed container in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator. If it is kept too long, the flesh becomes soft and is destroyed by insect larvae.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation


Truffles are used in the gourmet kitchen. In contrast to white truffles, which are also eaten raw, the black ones are served only cooked. For example, the white Piedmont truffle is shaved over broad noodles or tagliatelle, or grated over cheese fondue. Black truffle tastes delicious with an omelette.

The mushroom is used for many delicacies, for pâtés, for truffled liverwurst, and much more. The food industry produces the most varied specialities with truffles, among them truffle noodles, truffle jelly, truffle cream, truffle butter and truffle purée. They are also used in the production of chocolate.

 

 

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