On both mainstream media and social media people are discovering and discussing black truffles. Foward thinking individuals are investing in truffle producing trees to diversify and secure generational wealth. Professional and amateur chefs are creating new truffle recipes bringing truffles to an ever-increasing audience.
Here are 11 things you should know about the black truffle.
What Is The European Black Truffle?
The black truffle is also known as the Périgord Truffle, after the region in France where it originates. The Latin name is Tuber Melanosporum. It is a member of the fungi family and is found throughout Europe.
The black truffle is a winter truffle growing during the European winter, between November and February.
At Truffle Farms Europe, we grow Périgord Truffle, but there are two other types of black truffle which grow in Europe. One is the Burgundy Truffles, which are harvested between September and December. The other is the Black Summer Truffle, harvested between May and September.
Black Truffle Price
The black truffle is one of the world’s most expensive and coveted foods. Prices start at $1,000 per kilo and can be as high as $2,000 per kilo. Experts predict that prices will increase further over the coming years as demand continues to grow.
If a kilo of black truffle seems like overkill, expect to pay north of $20 for an ounce.
What Does Black Truffle Taste Like?
Black truffles have a taste like nothing else in the world. The Japanese have a system that uses 4 basic categories to describe tastes. The first four are sweet, sour, salt, and bitter. The fifth, which is lesser known, is Umami. We can translate this flavour as savory. This is the category that black truffles come under.
All black truffles all have a savory flavour, but truffles from different regions all have their own unique tastes.
The Périgord truffle, which is considered the premium black truffle, has its own unique flavour. The taste has earthy notes as well as hints of mint, pepper and hazelnut. The Périgord truffle has a distinctive smell, musky with hints of mushroom, garlic and cocoa. You may also be able to pick up hints of the forest floor where the truffle has been growing.
Black Truffle Salt
Black truffle is the perfect accompaniment to meat and savory dishes. Using truffle salt you can easily infuse truffle flavours into your dish. Truffle salt can be kept for long periods of time allowing you to enjoy the fine flavour of truffles for months rather than weeks.
Black truffle salt is made by combining sea salt with finely chopped pieces of truffle. Store in an air-tight container and the aroma and flavour of truffles will permeate the salt. When buying truffle salt make sure the salt contains real truffles, not truffle flavouring.
Black Truffle Oil
There are two types of truffle oil. Those that use real truffles and those that use chemical flavourings. Truffle oil using chemical flavorings is cheaper, but it’s a false economy. The taste is harsh and synthetic with almost nothing in common with actual truffles.
Using truffle oil containing real truffles will elevate your dishes to another level. It will also keep you on the right side of combative celebrity and gourmet chefs. Just make sure you don’t use too much. A drop or two is all you need to add. Anymore and you will overpower the dish.
Where To Find Black Truffle
Black truffles are native to the South of France, and Northern Spain as well as parts of Italy and Croatia. Scientific breakthroughs have made it possible to grow truffles in new countries. You can now find black truffles being grown in such diverse locations as Australia, China and the USA. Truffle Farms Europe has plantations in France and Spain and development is underway for a truffle farm in Scotland.
Despite being grown across the world, black truffles require a very specific climate. They need warm summers and cool winters. These temperate conditions are vital. Black truffles need protection from both extreme heat and extreme cold.
Black truffles also need the right type of soil. The soil must provide good drainage, so heavy clay soils are unsuitable. There must also be a high calcium content, so soils rich in limestone or chalk are needed. This stoniness also helps with the drainage that the truffles require.
What Trees Do Black Truffle Grow On?
Black truffles grow best on Hazel, Oak, Birch and Beech trees. Truffles are a fungus, but there is one major difference between truffles and mushrooms. Mushrooms grow in dead trees or logs, or in the soil. Truffles grow on living trees.
The Truffles and trees exist in a delicate balance. Truffles take sugars from the trees and in return give nutrients to the tree. You can find black truffles throughout Europe and as far afield as Australia and the United States.
What Are The Best Truffles In The World?
We’re obviously biased, but the Périgord Black Truffle really is the best truffle in the world.
The most expensive truffles in the world are the Alba white truffle or Italian White Winter Truffle. But this truffle has a weaker flavour and is very difficult to grow. In fact, it only grows well in the Alba region of Tuscany. Attempts to grow it in other regions have all been unsuccessful.
The black truffle is hardier and, with the right conditions and expertise, can be grown outside its native area. The flavour is stronger and more versatile. We happen to believe it is the best tasting. But what can’t be argued is that the black truffle is the most in-demand truffle of them all.
How To Store Black Truffles
Black truffles are supposed to be eaten fresh. Therefore they’re shipped within hours of being harvested. Eating a recently harvested truffle guarantees you a flavour and aroma that you will never forget. However, if you take the time to properly store your truffles, you can minimize the loss of flavour.
Fresh black truffles are good for up to 3 weeks in the fridge, if stored correctly. If you fail to store truffles properly, they will quickly lose moisture and flavour.
To store black truffles, make sure they are washed and dried. Then, individually wrap them in tissue paper or kitchen towel. Put them together in an air-tight container. Keep the container in the fridge.
Check on the truffles regularly to change the tissue paper. Even in the fridge, truffles will lose a little moisture. This mustn’t be allowed to stick to the truffle, or it will get mouldy.
Can I Freeze Black Truffles?
Yes, but it’s not ideal. Black truffles will lose some of their moisture and flavour during the freeze. If you decide to freeze the truffles, you will need to clean and dry them before storing them in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to use them, finely slice or grate the frozen shavings onto your food.
How Not To Store Black Truffles
Never store your truffles in rice to prolong its life span. Truffles contain a lot of water, and the rice will draw both water and flavor from them. The only time you should store truffles in rice is if you are looking to infuse the rice with truffle flavouring. The same principle applies to storing truffles in salt.