- THE TRUFFLE
- Fresh Truffle
- Pure Truffle
- Truffle Specialities
- Porcini Mushrooms Specialities
- Gift Ideas
WHAT IS THE TRUFFLE Truffle is the common name used to identify the fruiting bodies (sporocarps) of fungi whose entire life cycle is spent underground (hypogean). They must live in symbiosis with trees in order to produce the precious sporocarp. They belong to the Tuber genus, and are formed by an outer wall called the peridium – which can be smooth or textured, and may vary in colour from light to dark – and by internal issue called the gleba , which can range in colour from black to brown and from pink to white. The spores are contained in large cells known as asci, which are themselves encapsulated in sacs encircled by ramified veins running through the gleba. The various species of truffle differ in the morphological properties of their peridium, gleba, asci and spores, as well as in their size and tasting qualities. A fresh Tuber melanosporum truffle and a Tuber magnatum truffle contains 80% water, ashes, total nitrogen, non-protein nitrogen, proteins, lipids, soluble glucides, crude fibre. Its value does not lie in its nutritional contribution alone, but in its huge capacity to overwhelm the consumer with pleasure. Apart from this characteristic, there is also the huge difference in market quotation between the white truffle and the other species, which, as far as chemical composition is concerned, are very similar. What’s important to remember is that truffle is a genuine product cause it can grow only in areas without environmental pollution.
HISTORY & MYTH In the beginning Truffles have certainly been known since very ancient times, even if it is not certain that our ancestors referred to truffles or other hypogeous fungi. The first evidence of its use refers to Sumerian people’s diet around 1700-1600 B.C., but it is only an hypothesis. But the first definite news on record of the truffle appeared in the ‘Natural History’ of Pliny the Elder (79 B.C.). Anecdotal evidence shows that the truffle, known in Latin simply as a “Tuber”, was particularly appreciated by the Ancient Romans who almost certainly learnt about the culinary uses of this mushroom from the Etruscans. In the 1st century A.D., the idea that this precious fungus developed from the combined action of water, heat and lightning was passed on by way of the Greek philosopher Plutarch of Chaeronea. Various poets derived inspiration from this; one of them, Juvenal, explained the truffle as originating from a bolt of lightning struck by Jupiter near an oak (a tree held to be sacred to the father of the Gods). As Jupiter was also well-known for his prodigious sexual activity, truffles have also always been attributed with aphrodisiac properties. The Middle Ages and the Renaissance For a long time the naturalists disagreed about the classification of the truffle. Someone considered the truffle as a plant, other as an excrescence of the earth, or even as an animal! However the truffle continued to be highly appreciated among nobility and high prelates. For certain „scientists“ of the period, its aroma was a sort of „quintessence“ which produced an ecstatic effect on human beings. Thus the truffle was seen as a sublime synthesis of the satisfaction of the senses representing the essence of a superior pleasure. In the 18th century, the truffle was considered the most delicious foods among all the European courts. Not to be forgotten as one of the greatest estimator of this ,fruit of the earth“ is the musician Gioacchino Rossini, who defined it as „the Mozart of fungi“. The Piedmont’s white truffle has always been considered the finest, but it was only in the 20th century that the White Truffle of Alba acquired its world fame thanks to the brilliant promotional work carried out by Giacomo Morra – hotel and restaurant owner from Alba – who in 1933 was rightly “crowned” king of truffles by The Times of London.
TYPES OF TRUFFLES The classification of different species of truffles is based primarily on morphological characteristic such as shape and size. The shape depends largely on the soil they grow in: rounder if the soil is soft, and more irregular with recesses and bulges if they have developed in hard, stony ground. In the world, there are about 63 species of fungi that are currently classified as tubers; in Italy there are 25, but only 9 are edible and 6 are the most commonly marketed: Tuber magnatum Pico (Alba or Acqualagna white truffle or precious white truffle) Tuber melanosporum Vitt. . (Norcia black truffle or precious black truffle) Tuber aestivum Vitt. (Scorzone) Tuber borchii Vitt. (Bianchetto or Marzuolo) Tuber brumale Vitt. (Black winter truffle) Tuber macrosporum Vitt. (Smooth black truffle)
TRUFFLE HUNTING CALENDAR Tuber Magnatum Pico White truffle or Piedmont or Alba or Acqualagna white truffle. September 15th to January 31st _________________________________________ Tuber albidum Pico o Tuber borchii Vittad. Bianchetto Truffle or Marzuolo January 15th to April 30th _________________________________________ Tuber melanosporum Vittad. Precious Black Truffle November 15th to March 15th _________________________________________ Tuber uncinatum Chatin Uncinatum Black Truffle October 1st to December 31st _________________________________________ Tuber aestivum Vittad. Summer Black Truffle or Scorzone June 15th to August 30th – October 1st to November 30th _________________________________________ Tuber brumale var. moschatum De Ferry Moscato Truffle December 15th to March 15th _________________________________________ Tuber brumale Vittad. Black Winter Truffle or Black Trifola December 15th to March 15th _________________________________________ Tuber macrosporum Vittad. Smooth Black Truffle October 1st to December 31st Truffle hunting is not allowed from August 31st to September 14th
HOW TO USE TRUFFLE There are many ways to use the truffle in kitchen, but all are related to simplicity because the truffle is perfect for not too elaborate preparations, for this reason it has been considered, since ancient times, the king of the table. The precious Tuber should be washed under running cold water, cleaned with a soft brush and dried in paper towel just before eating. Preserve the truffles by wrapping them separately in a dry paper towel that must be changed every day and place them in a glass jar, close tightly in the refrigerator, but it is generally best to consume them as soon as possible because the flavour will fade rapidly. The preservation of a truffle depends to a large extent on its type; white truffles are more aromatic but lose flavour and aroma quickly, after about a week they must be consumed… The truffles can be frozen at temperatures below – 20 ° C, for a maximum period of 6 – 7 months, in vacuum cello bags in order to conserve 90% of their aroma. Some restaurateurs, by using this method, add salt into the truffles bags; since the salt is hygroscopic, it is largely used for long term storage. We suggest using the truffle shaver to slice the ” White Truffle ” and the “Bianchetto Truffle” this last, in moderate quantity for it has a strong taste that recalls garlic smell) directly onto the tagliatelle, rice, appetizers, in order to taste its natural excellent aroma. Also the “Estival Black Truffle” , the “Black Truffle” and the “Black Truffle Uncinatum“are excellent sliced directly, but we suggest grating them to whisk rice, tagliatelle, meat, condiments for appetizers to best taste their aroma and finally garnish the plate with truffle slices… Paring wine with truffle dishes is strictly connected to the traditions of the territory and also to our own personal taste, we suggest strong wines for a perfect combination. We recommend to try truffle dishes combined with Beers, a particular combination that can delight your palate to enjoy new flavours.