If there is a mushroom that deserves to be in all history books, that should be the Truffle. We have records from the Mesopotamian Empire (3000 BCE) where the Sumerians would eat truffles. In Egypt, there are hieroglyphs talking about offering them to the Gods. Greeks and Romans loved it, Emperor Nero said “Truffles are a delicacy of gods”. Centuries later, in the year 1660, at the Royal wedding between Louis XIV of France and Princess Maria Teresa from Spain, truffle eggs were served. Even Napoleon Bonaparte believed in the aphrodisiac powers of these fungis. Today, we know that Oprah Winfrey doesn’t trouble outside the USA without her truffle salt.
So, what is the deal with this fungi?
We need to understand that truffles do not grow on the soil, they grow underground. They are parasites to trees. They need their host to do the photosynthesis (convert sunlight into energy) for them. In return, it will supply the tree with extra nutrients that the tree cannot reach by itself.
As it grows under the soil, there is not an easy way to spread the spores in order to reproduce. Nature, as wise as it is, will gift them with a very strong aroma, so animals are attracted to it and eat them. Days later, once digestion has been done, the animal will “deposit” the spores, and the circle of life will start again.
A good quality black truffle has over 150 different aromas. It might bring you memories of a forest, wet earth, beetroot, musk, wood, etc.… In one word, they smell like nature, pure clean nature.
Are truffles as expensive as we think?
The answer is no. I understand that if I tell you that one pound of black truffle costs over 1.000 US dollars you will say, that’s expensive to me! The issue is that you don’t need one pound of truffles for one dinner, with a 2 ounce one (50 US dollars) you can prepare an amazing meal for 6 people. I know it is an investment, but trust me, your friends will love you!
Here some tips to make the best out of your investment!
* Buy a natural truffle, not one of those that come in a bottle with a little bit of liquid in them. In order to preserve the truffle food companies boiled them. This will kill between 70% to 85% of the aromas.
* I know that a perfect rounded truffle looks great, but it will cost you double the price than an uneven one. Leave the perfect looking ones for the restaurants. Beauty is more expensive!
* A natural truffle will preserve its quality up to 20 days, so use those days wisely. Pre-use the truffle. What we do at home is put a block of good butter and the truffle in a well-sealed crystal jar for 5 days. This is the way to have truffle-butter, that you can use for cooking or just over a toast. Once we have the butter, we do the same with eggs. In a week, you can eat the best truffle-eggs ever.
* If you have some left-over truffles, you can freeze it. It will lose about 40% of the aromas, but you can have a romantic dinner in the summer, when there are no natural truffles.
Black truffles are not just for high-end restaurants, give it a try at home. You will become an instant fan!
We have visited an organic Black Truffle farm in Spain. Learn about truffles with Chencho and his amazing dogs Rum and Trufa.