Learn About Truffles

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Truffles: The Fabulous Fungus

Truffles are a fungus grown and harvested predominantly in France and Italy. Gourmets have treasured "black pearls" for their aroma and taste for 3500 years. Truffles grow 3-12 inches deep around the roots of chestnut, oak, hazel, and beech trees.

Truffles are just like their cousin the mushroom only growing under ground instead of above ground. Humans use specially trained pigs or dogs to sniff out and dig up these aromatic and priceless delicacies. Though pigs are better at ferreting out the truffles, dogs are easier to control once they have retrieved the brown, black or white fungus. Truffles are literally worth more than their weight in gold.

Typical Truffle Products

 Product  Description.
 Fresh Truffles  White or black Fresh truffles are available in your local gourmet deli as well as mail order or online sources 
Truffle Powder Dried and pulverized truffles. Provides a delicate earthy flavor to soups, stews, risotto and polenta.
Truffle Oil Normally these are high quality olive oils infused with refined truffle essence. Use to finish a salad, risotto, or vegetables.
Truffle Cream Truffle creams are 'pastes' made with a variety of ingredients such as anchovy, garlic, oil, along with the truffle. Use the cream for canapés, snacks, grilled french bread toasts, or crostini.
Truffle Salt The ultimate way to enjoy black truffles. A blend of ground Italian black truffle and sea salt is a new pantry essential. Try over cooked egg dishes, tossed in pasta, on pâté or foie gras, or sprinkled on buttered popcorn and served with a glass of spumante! A “special occasion” condiment!. Buy Truffle Salt at GourmetSleuth.com

Featured Recipe - Pasta With White Truffles Olive Oil Parmesan And Basil

  • 1 c Dark Green Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 tablespoon Dark Green Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Angel Hair Pasta For 6 Servings
  • 2 tablespoon Julienne Of Fresh Basil
  • Salt
  • Freshly Ground White Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Freshly Grated Reggiano Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 ounces Fresh White Truffles
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, bring 8 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil; add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, no more than two minutes; drain well.
  3. Toss the pasta with the cup of olive oil, half the basil, and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Mound the pasta in the middle of each of 6 heated large serving plates.
  5. Sprinkle the pasta with the Parmesan Cheese.
  6. With a truffle shaver or swivel-bladed vegetable peeler, shave the truffle over each serving.
  7. Garnish with the remaining basil.

Using Fresh Truffles

Truffles are very aromatic and flavorful (not to mention expensive with cost upward of $2500.00 a pound)  and a little goes a very long way.  A truffle shaver is the perfect tool to use to making fine sheds to use over pasta or any recipe that uses truffles.  This handy tool is very well made and will last a lifetime. It also works well as a chocolate shaver.

The truffle shaver is a flat, stainless steel device with an adjustable blade.  The best truffle shavers are made in Italy.

truffle shaver made in Italy 

Storing Fresh Truffles

The best advise for storing fresh truffles is "don't".  Truffles are best used as quickly as possible so a best practice is to only buy an amount you can easily use.  If you do have left overs you can try one of these storage methods.

  • Wrap truffle in cheese-paper then place it in freezer bag, or freeze in a small jar with as little air space as possible. Freeze for a maximum of one month.
  • Make truffle butter - slice and mince the truffle, add to room-temperature butter and combine well. Wrap in waxed paper, store in tightly sealed container.  To use, slice butter and top grilled meats, vegetables or pasta.  This butter can also be frozen.
  • Add slices to extra virgin olive oil to make your own truffle oil.
author

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of GourmetSleuth.com she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.