The first thing you must learn is to recognize some of the truffles that are sold in markets to make sure you don't buy a pig in a poke. They are two species that we find fresh in Spain, from a gastronomic point of view : Tuber melanosporum and Tuber aestivum. We can also find two species of imported fresh truffles, although not harvested in Spain: Tuber magnatum y Tuber indicum
It is the most harvested truffle in Spain and the highest commercial value we have in our country. It is known in France as "Truffe du Périgord" and in Italy as "Tartufo nero pregiato". You can get fresh truffles throughout the winter.
It is more or less round, somewhat irregular, and vary in size from a pea-size to a tennis ball or bigger. The external surface is black, with reddish brown tones when truffles are not fully ripe. It is covered with pyramidal warts. Unripe truffles are white inside, darkening as they ripen to become purplish-black when they are fully ripe. It is marbled with thin, white veins. These veins may eventually disappear when the truffle is ripe or because of frosts. It has a strong fragrance, intense and highly characteristic according to its state of ripeness. This aroma is influenced by rainfall, the soil where they are harvested and frosts. It's very difficult to me to describe the truffle smell, despite my years of truffle hunter. I could not faithfully describe the truffle aroma. I only know that when I have truffles in my hands, they awaken my senses. When I ask other truffle hunter, friends, cooks ...They say that truffle smell like topsoil, weed wet, cockles.... We always compare it with aromas that remind us of something, but we never define it accurately. It is so attractive to some people as unpleasant for those who smell the truffle for the first time. Its taste is nice, distinctive, faintly bitter, specied.
There is a truffle similar in appearance to Tuber melanosporum and harvested on the same dates: Tuber brumale. It is often sold together with Tuber melanosporum, but their quality is far lower. We can distinguish this truffle because when brushing, it loses some of its skin. Its aroma is different.
Known in Italy as"tartufo nero estivo". It is mainly harvested in summer. The external surface is similar to Tuber melanosporum, black skin and pyramidal warts.
It differs because its warts are larger. It is less dense (weighs less) than the winter black truffle and it often reaches larger size. Unripe truffles are white inside becoming brown when they are fully ripe, never black. Sweet smell, like roasted malt, with a mild taste reminiscent of nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts). The summer truffle is considered of good quality and can be used in the same way as the Tuber melanosporum.
It is the Chinese truffle, with little culinary value because of their poor odor and taste He looks much like the Tuber melanosporum, but with a rubbery consistency, and is frequently used in restaurants replacing it fraudulently. Its price is much lower.
It is the Italian "tartufo Bianco d'Alba". It is mainly harvested in autumn. It is not found yet in Spain. It has smooth surface, lightly velvety, pale ochre to dark cream or greenish. Its aroma, a mixture of methane gas and garlic, is very volatile and therefore, delicate white truffles are best when not cooked at all, but shaved raw over your favorite dish. The heat emitted by the food is enough to the truffle gives off its aroma. It is the most expensive truffle in the world, exceeding 4000 U$ a kilo and more, and very difficult to find in the Spanish market for that reason.
You can get canned, frozen or dried truffles throughout the year , but here we will refer to eating them fresh that is the best way to appreciate the truffle aroma
You can get Tuber melanosporum all through the winter. Since mid-January to late February, they are at their best time.
You can buy them throughout their season, from December 1 to March 15, on our website. TO BUY TRUFFLES
It is harvested mainly in June and July, although it is also easy to find during the rest of the year. From October to December we can find the Tuber uncinatum or Burgundy truffle, a more aromatic variety of black summer truffle.
This truffles are often sold mixed with Tuber melanosporum. They are harvested at the same time.
Remove any soil from truffles just before eating. It is not advisable to wash them before, because its duration is shortened. They must be washed with water and brushed under the tap. The outside must be completely clean since they will be used unpeeled. Dry with a paper towel.
When we know the aroma of fresh truffles, any method of preservation will seem optimal because no method keeps intact its texture and aromas.We therefore recommend eating them fresh, particularly the black winter truffle (Tuber melanosporum). But if we want to get the most out of truffles and to consume them out of season, we should to use some form of preservation. Although there are many methods, here we discuss the more useful for small quantities.
For fresh consumption: black winter truffle (Tuber melanosporum) lasts less than 10 days in the fridge. We must keep truffles in an airtight container such as tupperware, wrapped in paper towel to retain excess moisture. This paper towel must be changed approximately every 2 days to prevent rotting truffles. Remember truffles breathe, so you must open this container for a few minutes every day. Black summer truffles (Tuber aestivum) last much more and it is not uncommon to keep them in good condition more than 1 month in the fridge.
Preserving in vinegar, liqueurs and oils: are widespread and useful methods. Soak truffles in soft vinegar like apple vinegar, dry sherry or brandy at a rate of about 20 g / liter, and a couple of months later we can use them in many cooking recipes. Truffles will not spoil but eventually will stay dry and without aroma, not be used for anything else. We will use them to add to salads, vinaigrettes, soups, stews, and, if you like, to a “carajillo” (coffee and a splash of brandy). In extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, walnut oil, peanut oil, at a rate of 20 g / liter. There are two ways to make truffle oil: one of them is to use chopped or grated truffle. The oil we must always keep in the fridge if you do not want the oil truffle spoil. The other way would be to introduce a whole truffle into oil and allow the oil to pick up the aroma of the truffle. You have to filter the oil after a few days and you can use the truffle for other recipes. IMPORTANT NOTE: We do not consider oil as a method of preservation of truffles because truffles will spoil and there is a risk of botulism developing in the oxygen-free oil. You can flavour oil with truffles, but the oil containing truffles must be refrigerated and used within one month. Heating this oil in a double boiler, although it reduces risk, it does not eliminate it completely because botulism-producing bacteria (Clostridium botulinum) produce spores that can survive boiling water temperatures for several hours.
Truffles in juice: Place clean truffles into a glass jar and fill with water, brandy, white wine, sherry, or Port wine. Put the lid on and cook in the pressure cooker for 30 minutes. Store in the fridge and truffles will last up to a year.
Freezing: Clean truffles, wrap with foil and place into a airtight glass jar. Store in the freezer.
Dried sliced truffles: This preservation method is the most durable. It is only advisable for black summer truffles, because they will lose most of its aroma. Black summer truffle has little aroma but very nice taste and dried method emphasize their flavor. Once you have dried truffles you can also powder them and use them as a flavoring. Dried sliced truffles are used in stews, sauces, soups and croquettes.
Canned truffles: If you can not get fresh truffles, you can buy canned truffles in glass jars containing usually 10 to 12 g of truffles.
But you must read the fine print and see if they are first or second boiling. First boiling truffles are canned while fresh and sterilized, so truffles maintain all their juice. Second boiling truffles are boiled first to extract part of their juice and then they are canned and sterilized, undergoing two boilings and losing most of its flavor.
It is advisable to look carefully on the label to not be deceived. You can think that you buy a real black winter truffle when it can be a Chinese truffle. The scientific name is the one that gives us accurate information. Many different species can be sold with the common name of truffle.
Scientific name: Tuber melanosporum, Tuber nigrum. Common name: black winter truffle, black truffle.
Scientific name: Tuber aestivum. Common name: summer truffle, Saint Jean truffle, white truffle.
Scientific name: Tuber brumale. Common name: winter truffle, violet truffle.
You can find on the label names such as black truffle, winter truffle, or just truffle, but with the scientific name of Tuber himalayense or Tuber indicum. They look like Tuber melanosporum, but they are still Chinese truffles that have nothing to do with our winter black truffle.
If we are talking about truffles, we have to talk about cooking, since the truffle owes everything to cooking and cooking owe quite a lot to truffles. They were already very appreciated by the Greeks and Romans and since then truffles are regarded as aphrodisiac.
In the Middle Ages fell into oblivion and it is in the nineteenth century, when the truffle comes back to cooking. Brillat -Savarin (1755-1826), the famous French writer and gastronome, is who has most contributed to the fame of the truffle in cooking. Author of “The Physiology of Taste”, where he coined the famous phrase “the truffle is the diamond of the kitchen” and where he also wondered why this honor. Obviously, the truffle is a diamond if we consider that there is no other product, used as food and flavoring, that reaches such gastronomic value and market price as the truffle. He thinks it's because the general idea, at that time, that the truffle was aphrodisiac, and reaching the final conclusion: “the truffle is not exactly an aphrodisiac, but it tends to make women more tender and men more likeable”.
The black winter truffle (Tuber melanosporum) always must be used as a condiment, not as food. Freshly collected, if possible. To enjoy and appreciate truffles, 100 g is enough. With this amount we can make several recipes. It is advisable to put together the truffle with the food we have to flavor at least 24 hours before cooking. We must bear in mind that the aroma of truffles is highly volatile and is fixed in fat, so you don't have to cook truffles for a long time, and you have to cook truffles with fatty foods to fix its aroma.
First you must use an airtight container and put together the food you want to flavor and the truffle. Close the container and leave it at a cool place for at least 24 hours. The aroma of the truffle will penetrate the food, and the more fatty food more flavor is obtained from the truffle. Then cook as you would normally.
Although you can make many recipes using truffles, the aroma of the truffle will be better appreciated with the simplest. We recommend starting with truffled eggs. You can prove how the aroma of truffles is able to cross the porous eggshell and remain in the yolk.
Take half a dozen eggs and place them in an airtight container with a fresh truffle, previously washed and wrapped in paper towel, but not completely. Close the container and put in the fridge for two days. The high porosity of the eggshell will allow the aroma of truffle permeates eggs. Then we can use these eggs to make truffled flan, use in stuffing, or just eat them fried with slices of truffle on top. These truffled eggs will delight your palate.
Truffles love vineyards. The mycelium of the truffle invades vineyards near the woods where truffles grow in a natural way. Vineyard care provided an optimal environment for the development of the truffle. The white Alba truffle, Tuber magnatum, was combated like a plague in Piedmont, until phylloxera destroyed the vineyards of the region. Many of these lands were abandoned and the truffle spread without obstacles in its way. Today, the Tuber magnatum, reaches US$ 4,000 per Kilogram.
This historic rivalry between truffles and the vineyards does not result in a divorce between wine and truffles. You can not enjoy the full taste of truffles without the right wine. It is a personal matter to find it, a challenge with a great ludic component. There is mild-flavored truffles like Tuber aestivum and strong flavored truffles like Tuber melanosporum. Each one will need a different wine, and they also will vary depending on whether the truffle is the star of the dish or just a flavor.
Tuber melanosporum: Black winter truffle. Enjoy fresh raw truffles in thin slices, with oil and salt. It is the best way to appreciate their taste. Of course we talk about fresh truffles in its optimum state of ripeness (harvested in January and February). Its tasting gives us a set of feelings that evolve in mouth from an initial spiced flavor to finish in a hazelnut flavor, with a slight bitter touch. Its flavor is very persistent and requires wines with a long, lingering finish. If you choose a white wine, it has to be a wine fermented in oak barrels. If you choose a red wine, choose them with a high content of polyphenols. Syrah and red wines aged in oak barrels are very good. Black truffle carpaccio and Jumilla red wine are an excellent combination for us.
It is quite easy to use the truffle in cooking and to prepare excellent meals. We recommend starting with the simplest preparations to achieve to capture its impressive aroma. Here are some suggestions:
Cut the bread into slices and toast. Dribble with truffle oil, add truffle slices and sprinkle with salt to taste.
It is the simplest recipe and with it we can appreciate very well the aroma of truffles. Truffled eggs will be used as explained previously. Fry the eggs and place on a preheated plate. Slice the truffle over the eggs immediately and wait about 30 seconds. The heat released by the eggs is enough to truffle changes its texture and gives off its aroma that will permeate the whole dish.
Ingredients: 1 duck liver, a duck breast, 40 g of black winter truffle (Tuber melanosporum), 2 tablespoons of Port wine. Salt, pepper, nutmeg and clove to taste.
You must keep the truffle with the liver and duck breast for 48 hours before preparing it, in a tightly closed container and into the fridge.
Preparation of foie gras: Season the duck breast and brown on the griddle. Meanwhile, crush the liver with a fork and go removing veins. When browned the duck breast, remove the skin and grind with a meat grinder. Add it to the liver and mix well, adding the salt, pepper, nutmeg, clove, the Port and the truffle. Continue mixing until you have a uniform texture. Fill glass jars with this pâté and close the lids tightly. Put in the pressure cooker, covering with water about one fifth of the jar. Close the lid and boil for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and remove jars.
Ingredients: Brie cheese, summer truffle, flour, egg, breadcrumbs and oil.
Preparation: Make slices of cheese, approximately 0.5 cm thick. Make also thin truffle slices and place them between two slices of cheese. Dip in flour, eggs, then bread crumbs. Fry in very hot oil until golden. Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil and serve warm. You can serve them with berries jam.