WHAT ARE TRUFFLES
Although being the ultimate food ingredient, truffles are not really understood by many of the millions of people that consume them each year. Most of us take for granted what they are, where they come from and the work that goes into locating and extracting truffles from specific regions around the globe.
Essentially, truffles are a fungus or mushroom and are often referred to as Tuber. They are usually found underground very close to or beneath the roots of trees. Some trees which are particularly renowned for their nurturing of truffles are pine, birch, beech, oak and poplars trees.
Truffles will only grow in certain regions due to the climate and earth conditions. The most popular countries for truffle extraction include Italy and France, but more countries across Western Europe are finding more and more truffles over time. There are also specific regions across Australia and South America where truffles are also found and traded.
The process involved to extract truffles usually requires the assistance of a trusted companion. Certain breeds of dog are trained to be able to assist with the process. Truffles are often located around a foot beneath the ground and truffle dogs can pick up the scent and save their owners a lot of wasted time and digging in search of the truffles. Pigs were formally the preferred choice for truffle detectives, but they did not prove to be much of an ally. Truffle pigs were naturally harder to train and when they found the beautiful truffles, more often than not they wouldn’t share the goods and would consume the truffle there and then.
Due to a combination of the complexity involved, the lack of Truffle availability and short lifespan of the truffle, these are a few of the reasons that make truffles so expensive.
HOW TO CARE FOR TRUFFLES
Truffles are very delicate and should be handled with care as to avoid damaging them during the cleaning process. To enjoy the truffle at it’s most tasteful and fragrant stage, they should be consumed within 24-48 hours after being extracted from the ground which is near on impossible for most.
Once you are in the know when it comes to taking care of truffles, you will be able to enjoy them up until 2 weeks if stored correctly. However, you must be aware that both the intense aroma together with the flavour will gradually reduce over the first week and you can even expect the truffle to shrink in size too.
When handling a fresh truffle, it is important that you clean the truffle before use. Most of the time, fresh truffles will arrive to you cleaned, but it is always sensible to give them a once over yourself. The easiest way to do this is to run the truffle under water whilst brushing them with a vegetable brush or even a toothbrush before carefully drying them with a kitchen towel (we advise dabbing the truffle rather than rubbing them).
If you have received a fresh truffle, but you’re not quite ready to use it, we recommend wrapping the truffle in kitchen paper and then placing the truffle in an airtight container such as a Tupperware box, a small glass jar or even a sealed sandwich bag (remove the air before sealing if you can) and then placing in the fridge. You should avoid putting the container at the back of the fridge as this can result in condensation which is damaging for the truffle. Our advice would be to check the truffle daily to wipe away any collected condensation and to also change the paper towel wrapped around the truffle.
If you want a little ‘insiders tip’, if you your storage container is big enough to hold a few eggs, we STRONGLY advise placing the eggs in the containers too as this will infuse the eggs over a few days and give you instant truffle eggs. Thank us later.
COOKING WITH TRUFFLES
Understanding and cooking with truffles deserves a degree on its own, ask any top chef from around the World. This supreme food ingredient can bring any dish to life, but careful thought and consideration must be given.
If you are cooking with truffles whether Fresh Truffles, Preserved Truffles or even Truffle Condiments such as Truffle Oil and Truffle Sauces, your dish should always be centered around that beautiful truffle taste. What we mean by this is that you select your pairing ingredients carefully and ensure that the truffle taste is the ingredient which takes the spotlight.
The powerful taste and aroma of the truffle is very dominating and when paired with ingredients that are less potent and aromatic, the truffle will thrive. Choose to pair with another intense food ingredient and you risk the truffle being overshadowed. Some examples of an incredible partnership for the truffle are pasta, rice and potatoes as they do not carry much flavour on their own. Other relationships made in heaven include fatty foods such as butter, cheese, oils, cream and foie gras.