WHAT ARE TRUFFLES
Truffles are a rare type of edible mushroom, or fungus, that develops
underground in relation to and dependent on the root of a tree. They
are actually the "fruit" of the organism, much like apples are the
fruits of trees. During harvesting time, trained pigs and dogs are used
to sniff out the very strong scent coming from under the ground.
Truffles have a long and established history, and have been around for
centuries. Springtime in Europe brings out the truffle hunters and
their trained pigs and dogs with high hopes of finding buried treasure.
They are very difficult to find, resulting in very high prices at the
market. Certain varieties fetch even higher prices than others because
they are so rare.
Hunters usually prefer to use trained dogs rather than pigs, because a
pig is much more likely to eat the sniffed out treasure he finds. The
trained dog however, would much rather a reward of bread or some other
type of treat than truffles.
DIFFERENT TRUFFLE TYPES
There are many different types of truffles, up to 70 varieties, but
only a small selection is usually available for purchase. Fresh
truffles should be consumed within 3 to 4 days of harvest, otherwise
they should be frozen for later use. They should never be re-frozen
after thawing either, as the flavor and aroma will be completely gone
defeating the whole purpose of the luxurious experience. Truffles can
also be preserved, as well as chopped and pureed in sauces and
These are the most common types found in restaurants and markets:
The Black Winter Truffle (Tuber melanosporum):
truffle is round, and has grayish to black skin with white veins. It is
the most prized of all the different truffle types, earning the
nickname of the "Black Diamond of Provence." Growing season -
December to March
The Black Summer Truffle (Tuber aestivum):
looks like the Black Winter Truffle, only bigger and tougher. It has a
yellowish to grayish appearance with white veins. It is also the least
expensive type of the bunch. Growing season - May to August
The Brumale Truffle (Tuber Brumale):
Musquée," and has a dark grayish color at maturity. It has
veins, but they are bigger than those of the Black Winter Truffle.
Grows in the same area as the Black Winter Truffle. Growing
season - December to March
The Burgundy Truffle (Tuber uncinatum):
"Truffe Grise," with a round shape similar to the Black Summer Truffle.
At maturity it has a brownish coloring with white veins. Growing
season - September to January
The White Italian Truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico):
This truffle has white to fawnish colored skin with white veins. Very
expensive and rare. Growing season - October to December
Independent truffle farming is no small feat, and requires several
years to harvest a single, first crop. Once a tree has successfully
produced a crop of truffles however, it can continue to do so for
In order for truffles to be grown in an artificial environment, such as
a backyard, the host tree needs to be inoculated with the fungus under
very controlled conditions. There are several cultivation farms that
have successfully mastered this technique, and inoculated seedlings can
be purchased from them.
Truffles can only grow in a climate without extreme weather changes,
such as very cold winters or very hot summers. Extreme weather
conditions are likely to damage any possibility of a successful
Another requirement is a well-drained soil, but they can tolerate
almost any type of soil as long as it has really good drainage. The
soil should be well maintained for nutritional elements, and any
problems corrected prior to planting.
Specific instructions for a particular type of truffle growing should
be given by the sapling cultivation farm.
About The Author:
Karole Dolen is a website designer and freelance writer from Northern California. In addition to being a blessed member of a proud unschooling family, she runs several websites including http://unschoolers.com
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