Mushroom truffle is appreciated by gourmets all over the world for its peculiar taste and aroma, which is difficult to confuse, and there is little to compare with. People pay a lot of money for the opportunity to taste delicious dishes in which he is present. The cost of individual copies is so off scale that the "black diamond of Provence" really justifies the nickname given to him by French admirers.
What is truffle
Truffle (Tuber) is a genus of ascomycetes or marsupial mushrooms from the Truffle family. The fruit bodies of these representatives of the mushroom kingdom develop underground and in their appearance resemble small fleshy tubers. Among the variety of varieties, there are edible ones, some of which are highly valued for their taste and are considered a delicacy.
"Truffles" are also called mushrooms that do not belong to the genus Tuber, such as common rhizopogon.
They are similar in shape and growth specifics.
Sometimes these ordinary truffles are sold under the guise of real ones.
Why is the mushroom truffle so expensive?
Truffle is the most expensive mushroom in the world. Its value is due to its rarity and specific taste, which has been appreciated by gourmets for many centuries in a row. The price is dominated by a white truffle from the Piedmont city of Alba in the province of Cuneo. In this village, the World White Truffle Auction is held annually, which attracts connoisseurs of these mushrooms from all over the world. To assess the order of prices, it suffices to give a few examples:
- in 2010, 13 mushrooms went under the hammer for a record amount of € 307,200;
- a gourmet from Hong Kong paid 105,000 € for a single copy;
- the most expensive mushroom was recognized, weighing 750 g, sold for $ 209,000.
Truffle sold at auction in Alba
The high cost can be explained by the fact that every year the number of mushrooms is steadily decreasing. In the regions of growth, there is a decline in agriculture, many oak groves where the mushroom settles are abandoned. However, farmers are in no hurry to increase the area of their mushroom plantations, fearing lower prices for the delicacy. In this case, landowners will need to cultivate large areas in order to receive the same profit.
What are truffles
Not all types of truffles are valuable in cooking - mushrooms differ in both taste and intensity of aroma. The most popular are Piedmont white truffles (Tuber magnatum), which are found in nature less often than others and bear fruit only from October until the beginning of the winter cold. The area of growth covers the north-west of Italy, especially the Piedmont region and the adjacent regions of France. Italian or real white truffle, as this variety is also called, is found in other countries of southern Europe, but much less often.
The fruit body of the fungus develops underground and consists of tubers of irregular bizarre shape from 2 to 12 cm in diameter. Large specimens can weigh 0.3-1 kg or more. The surface is velvety and pleasant to the touch, the color of the shell varies from light ocher to brownish. The pulp of the mushroom is of a dense structure, yellowish or light gray, in some cases reddish with an intricate brownish-creamy pattern. In the photo of the truffle mushroom in section, it is clearly visible.
Piedmont white truffle is the most expensive mushroom in the world
The second in the popularity rating is the black French truffle (Tuber melanosporum), otherwise it is called Perigord by the name of the historical region of Perigord, in which it is most often found. The mushroom is distributed throughout France, in the central part of Italy and Spain. The harvesting season is from November to March, with the peak occurring in the period after the New Year.
An underground tuber usually does not exceed 3-9 cm in diameter. Its shape can be either round or irregular. The shell of young fruiting bodies is red-brown, but becomes coal-black as it ripens. The surface of the fungus is uneven with numerous faceted tubercles.
The flesh is firm, grayish or pinkish brown. As with the previous variety, on the cut, you can see a marble pattern in a reddish-white scale. With age, the flesh becomes deep brown or purple-black, but the veins do not disappear. The Perigord species has a pronounced aroma and a pleasant bitter taste.
Black truffle is successfully cultivated in China
Another variety of valuable mushrooms is the winter black truffle (Tuber brumale). It is common in Italy, France, Switzerland and Ukraine. It got its name from the ripening time of fruit bodies, which falls on November-March.
Shape - irregular spherical or almost round. The size can reach 20 cm in diameter with a weight of 1-1.5 kg. Young mushrooms are reddish-purple, mature specimens are almost black. The shell (peridium) is covered with small warts in the form of polygons.
The pulp is whitish at first, then darkens and becomes gray or ash-purple, dotted with numerous streaks of white or yellowish-brown color. The gastronomic value is lower than that of the white truffle, the taste of which is considered by gourmets to be more pronounced and rich. The aroma is strong and pleasant, to some it resembles musk.
Winter black truffle is listed in the Red Book of Ukraine
Only one type of truffle grows in Russia - summer or black Russian (Tuber aestivum). It is also common in Central European countries. The underground body of the fungus has a tuberous or rounded shape, with a diameter of 2.5-10 cm. The surface is covered with pyramidal warts. The color of the mushroom ranges from brownish to blue-black.
The pulp of young fruit bodies is quite dense, but becomes loose over time. As it grows, its color changes from whitish to yellow or gray-brown. The cut shows a marble pattern of light veins. The photo of a summer truffle matches the description of the mushroom and more clearly demonstrates its appearance.
The Russian species is harvested in summer and early autumn.
The summer variety has a sweet, nutty flavor. Strong enough, but pleasant smell is somewhat reminiscent of algae.
How truffles are obtained
In France, wild-growing delicious mushrooms learned to look for as early as the 15th century, resorting to the help of pigs and dogs. These animals have such a good instinct that they are able to sniff prey from 20 m away. Observant Europeans quickly realized that truffles invariably grow in places where flies of the thornfly family swarm, the larvae of which like to settle in mushrooms.
In 1808, Joseph Talon collected acorns from oak trees, under which truffles were found, and planted an entire plantation. A few years later, under young trees, he gathered the first crop of valuable mushrooms, proving that they can be cultivated. In 1847, Auguste Rousseau repeated his experience by sowing acorns on an area of 7 hectares.
Today, China is the largest supplier of “culinary diamonds”. Mushrooms grown in the Middle Kingdom are much cheaper, but inferior in taste to their Italian and French counterparts. The cultivation of this delicacy is carried out by such countries as:
- New Zealand;
- Great Britain;
What does a truffle smell like?
Many people compare the flavor of truffle to Swiss dark chocolate. To some, its spicy smell is reminiscent of cheese and garlic. There are individuals who claim that Alba's diamond smells like used socks. However, one cannot adhere to a definite opinion without smelling the gourmet mushroom yourself.
What truffle tastes like
Truffle taste - mushroom with a subtle hint of roasted walnuts. Some foodies compare it to sunflower seeds. If the fruiting bodies are kept in water, it tastes like soy sauce.
The taste perception differs from person to person, but most of those who have tried this delicacy note that the taste, although unusual, is very pleasant. It's all about the androstenol contained in the pulp - an aromatic component responsible for the specific smell of these mushrooms. It is this chemical compound that causes increased sex drive in wild boars, which is why they are looking for them with such enthusiasm.
Silent hunting with a pig
How to eat truffle
Fresh truffles are used as an addition to the main course. The weight of a valuable mushroom per serving does not exceed 8 g. The tuber is rubbed into thin slices and seasoned with:
- poultry meat;
- vegetable stew;
There are many dishes with a truffle component in the national cuisine of France and Italy. Mushrooms are served with foie gras, pasta, scrambled eggs, seafood. Red and white wines well emphasize the delicate taste of the delicacy.
Sometimes mushrooms are baked and also added to various sauces, creams, oil. Due to the short shelf life, fresh mushrooms can only be tasted during the fruiting period. Grocery stores buy them in small batches of 100 g each, and are delivered to the point of sale in special containers.
Warning! People who are allergic to penicillin should use gourmet mushrooms with caution.
How to cook a mushroom truffle
At home, a valuable product is prepared by adding it to omelets and sauces. The relatively affordable varieties can be fried, stewed, baked, previously cut into thin slices. To prevent excess fresh mushrooms from spoiling, they are poured with calcined vegetable oil, to which they give their spicy aroma.
In the photo of the dishes, the truffle mushroom is difficult to see, since a small amount of this mushroom spice is added to each portion.
Interesting facts about truffles
Contrary to popular belief, underground mushrooms are best looked for by specially trained dogs. Breed and size do not matter, the whole trick is training. However, among all the four-legged, the Lagotto Romagnolo or Italian Water Dog breed is distinguished. An excellent sense of smell and love for digging in the ground are inherent in them by nature itself. You can also use pigs, however, they do not shine with hard work, and they will not look for a long time. In addition, you need to ensure that the animal does not eat the valuable mushroom.
Dog training can take several years, so good truffle hunters are worth their weight in gold themselves (the cost of a dog reaches 10,000 €).
The Romans considered truffle to be a powerful aphrodisiac. Among the fans of this mushroom, there are many famous personalities, both historical and modern. Alexander Dumas, for example, wrote the following words about them: "They are able to make a woman more affectionate, and a man hotter."
Sprinkle the dish with truffle slices just before serving.
Some more surprising facts about gourmet mushrooms:
- unlike other forest fruits, truffle pulp is more easily absorbed by the human body;
- the product contains the psychotropic substance anandamide, which has an effect similar to marijuana;
- in Italy there is a cosmetic company that produces products based on truffles (mushroom extract smoothes wrinkles, makes the skin elastic and smooth);
- the largest white truffle was found in Italy, it weighed 2.5 kg;
- fully ripe mushrooms exude the most intense aroma;
- the larger the fruiting body in size, the higher the price per 100 g;
- in Italy, you need a license to search for truffles in the forest.
Try the truffle mushroom, because the taste of rare products is difficult to describe in words. Today it is not so difficult to get a real delicacy, the main thing is to choose a reliable supplier so as not to run into a fake.