Although they are related, truffles unlike mushrooms, are a subterranean fungus growing on the roots of host trees and they prefer hazelnut and oak. Truffle farming requires just the right environment and soil conditions for truffles to grow. From the time the trees are planted to the first harvest varies from a minimum of 4 years onwards, depending on the suitability and viability of the truffiere (truffle orchard).
Harvesting truffles requires skilful truffle hunting, which was traditionally done by farmers accompanied by a female pig highly motivated by their foraging instinct to unearth the treasures. Today, truffle growers use specially trained dogs to detect the unique truffle scent .There is great excitement when the faithful dog clearly indicates the hidden truffle to its owner.
Truffles are a prized and distinctive condiment, turning any meal into a favourite gourmet dish. They have a relatively short shelf life, so it is important to store your fresh truffles correctly, to keep them fresh for as long as possible. Fresh truffle must be refrigerated and should be stored in a sealed glass container. Wrapping them or sitting them on paper towelling will also ensure your truffles are kept dry. Properly refrigerated truffles will maintain their aroma and flavour for up to 3 weeks. Of course, this is dependent upon whether you have purchased quality truffles that have been freshly harvested from a reliable source. Some people do freeze truffles, but they should be used in your cooking directly from the freezer and not left out to thaw. Wet or moist truffles will deteriorate very quickly.
A great way to use your truffles is to store them in the same container as some eggs, cheese or rice. The incredible truffle aroma penetrates these foods and miraculously enhances them with that unmistakably, delectable truffle flavour.
Truffles do not need much cooking. In fact, they are most often shaved over a favourite dish or added in the final stages of cooking. You can also fold shaved or grated truffles into warm dishes. The types of foods that pair well with truffles include cheese, cream, milk, eggs, pastas, meat and even honey.
Are truffles good for you?
So yes… truffles are good for you!
Much has been written about the nutritional value of this prized fungi, so there is also that added nutritional value for truffle lovers.