what is a truffle

What is a Truffle?

A truffle is the fruiting body of a fungus from the Ascomycete family, other fungi from this family include Yeasts, Morels and Dead Man's Fingers. The truffle fungus grows in symbioses with a host tree and so the truffles are always found around the roots of these trees. Truffle fungus does not harm the host tree but rather aids it in absorbing nutrients from the soil making this beneficial partnership for both the tree and the truffle fungus.

Truffles come in many different varieties and sizes, some more prized than others. The first recorded mention of truffles being eaten comes form as far back as 2000BC where inscriptions from the neo-Sumerians have been found discussing their enemies the Amorites fondness for truffles. There are other mentions of truffles throughout history but its not until the late 16th Century that they became a popular European delicacy.

The rareness of truffles has meant they have always been an expensive ingredient and people throughout history have tried to cultivate them with no success until the start of the 19th Century. It is now possible to grow your own truffle trees by purchasing saplings that have been 'infected' with the truffle fungus, this process is still a lengthy one though with the tree taking a minimum of five years until it is mature enough to produce truffles, even then there is no guarantee that the tree will bear any truffles.

What countries can I find truffles in?

Truffles can be found in countries that lie between the latitudes of 40 and 47 degrees North. Some varieties of truffle mushroom can be found in Southern England as far north as 52 Degrees. These are quite rare and arguably inferior to the truffles grown in countries at more favourable latitudes such as Italy and France due to the cooler climate and different kinds of soil. These mushrooms are found on several continents including Europe, Asia and North America but it is widely accepted that the European truffles are the highest quality due to the rich soil and perfect weather conditions.

What truffles can I cook with?

You can cook with any of the black truffles however we would recommend never actually cooking the white truffles, they should simply be grated on top of your dish as cooking can ruin the flavours.

Are there any inedible truffles?

No, All varieties of truffles are edible, there are similar mushrooms and fungi that may resemble a truffle that could be inedible or poisonous, you should always ask an expert before consuming any truffles that you find or buy them from a reputable supplier

What is the shelf life of a truffle

As they are predominantly made from water they have a short shelf life of around a week if stored correctly

What Do Truffles Smell Like?

Each variety of truffle smells differently however they all have a similar underlying earthy smell and a pungent musky aroma, on top of these they have varying scents from garlic to fresh hay

What Do Truffles Taste Like?

As with their aroma, each variety of truffle tastes different. The flavours range in strength from the mild summer black truffles to the strong pungent precious whites, they all have an umami taste which acts similar to MSG enhancing the floavours of the food you eat them with. If you want to know what fresh Italian truffles smell and taste like the best way is to order some fresh from us today!

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