What is truffle?
What is truffle
When you purchase truffles from EAT Truffles, you can be confident in the consistency and specifics of your purchase. We follow a UN Standards guide that has been embraced and published by the Australian Truffle Growers Association. We are all long-standing members of this Association, recognised by Federal and State governments as the industry peak body.
Our commitment to supplying quality black truffle means when purchasing, you’ll be receiving a fully classed product from our growers direct. In the past, you may have purchased truffle from some of our reliable individual Co-operative members, they are still here but are now also operating under the EAT Truffles brand.
Flavour and Aroma
The aroma of black truffles is unique and perhaps the most exotic culinary aroma in the world.
“Taste on the tongue is the usual sweet, sour, bitter, salty and “umami” (savoury), but the nose is much more discriminatory and taste is 90% aroma. There are thousands of notes, to a trained nose and the aroma of T. melanosporum (black truffle) is musty and sweet, a very intense mushroom smell overlaid with other notes, especially what wine tasters call “forest floor”. It cooperates with the flavours in food enhancing and intensifying them. A steak with truffle sauce becomes meatier, eggs are transformed into a gourmet item, and every aspect of the meal becomes more satisfying.”
There are two things of culinary value about truffles. The first is the exotic aroma, and taste is 90% aroma. When stored with fatty food substances, the truffle aroma is taken up by the fats. Think eggs, fresh oily nuts or chocolate, as well as cream or simply grape seed oil.
The second is that truffle contains glutamic acid, a flavour enhancer. Truffles make any food taste better. When the aroma has gone, don’t throw it out, slice it and put it under the skin of a chicken before roasting, insert slivers of truffle in chicken wing sticks or add it to a soup or stew and let the glutamate kick in!
How to store truffles
Truffles are best stored in the refrigerator in a large airtight container such as a jar or zip top bag, to prevent the aroma from contaminating other ingredients in the refrigerator. Wrap each truffle in a paper towel to keep them dry. Once harvested, truffles will continue to lose moisture, weight and aroma, and are best used within three weeks of harvest.
Do make sure you check the paper towel daily to stop the truffle from becoming moist. If the black truffle grows a little white mould, brush it off under running cold water and dry the truffle thoroughly before replacing it in the fridge.
Truffles can also be preserved by blast freezing them (minus forty degrees Celsius), but these will have less of the aroma of a fresh truffle. If frozen, truffles must then be kept/used/shaved, frozen as they become rubbery when thawed.
Unlike Europe, Australia has yet to develop a ‘Truffle Culture’, so new customers are best entertained by the full experience of seeing fresh truffles and smelling it on the plate.
Truffles go with practically anything as they are a flavour enhancer and have the ‘umami’, or savoury taste. They go well with simple dishes involving eggs, mushrooms, chicken, pasta, potatoes, risotto, Jerusalem artichokes and celeriac but the possibilities are endless. Truffles have a great affinity for any fats that will retain the aroma – such as truffle butter or cream-based sauces. You can find some truffle recipes here.
When shaving a truffle, it should be shaved as thinly as possible, as the greater the surface area exposed, the greater the aroma from the truffle serving. Truffle shavers show the texture and marbling of slices and microplanes are useful for finely divided truffle needed for infusing with cream or in making truffle butter.
Why truffles are priced different to other mushrooms
To help you appreciate the reason why truffle prices vary from season to season and why truffles are priced (and prized!) as they are, let’s take you “behind-the-scenes”.
As you may know, black truffles are not as common as their other fungi relatives. It takes years before the first sign of a truffle may appear. Truffles can only grow under specific climatic conditions, hence you won’t find them growing everywhere They are the fruiting body of a mycorrhizal fungi growing on the roots of a particular host tree, commonly oak or hazelnut trees for the black truffle, in a symbiotic relationship with the tree. For growers, this is not farming for the light-hearted. It requires a sound knowledge or access to the best advice, all of which is based on relevant experience from all growing countries of the world and particularly the recent growing experience in Australia. The thrill will come to a peak with harvest of the first truffle during the crisp and at times cutting cold truffle season from late May to late August. This is truffle harvesting time in Australia.
While the first harvest may be from 4 to 8 years after planting, the yield from any particular tree will vary. The specially trained harvest dogs are used to identify truffle location and the delicate process of uncovering, inspection and harvesting takes place.
Our growers spend many hours on their hands and knees, carefully excavating the truffles, with a care and precision not unlike that seen on an archaeological dig. What we find must be checked for ripeness, and if it is not yet ready for harvesting, left undisturbed, covered and rechecked at a later time. If harvested too early, not only do they have none of their dark colouring, but the shelf life, pungent aroma and culinary potential is missing, significantly damaging investment returns.
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