The Secrets of Black Truffles Revealed

January 9, 2015

For so many of us, black truffles are just a rather expensive type of mushrooms or less, a weird looking product on the shelves of stores. But let us journey to their background and discover the facts that make them such an expensive mushroom.

Why are Black Truffles so Special?

Because, it is after all just a forest mushroom. They do look rather unique, like a black potato that is a bit dehydrated. At a first glance, they do not seem quite edible, but connoisseurs know the real value of this wonder of nature.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the black truffles is their harvesting. You are used to the picture of seeing mushroom on the bed of leafs or growing on trees. But we are more than sure that you never saw these potato shape-like mushroom, with profound black color, just laying around and waiting to be picked up. Their secret is that they do not grow on the soil, but rather buried underneath. The black truffles at a depth ranging from 5 cm to 50 cm, under the roots of some tree species. They develop a symbiotic relationship with the tree under it grows as the mushroom provides the water for the tree, and the tree offers in return the nutrients needed by the mushroom for a good development. At some point though, this relationship can be quite smothering for the tree, its roots getting to be paralyzed and its growth limited. The types of trees preferred by the black truffles are holm oaks, French oaks, hazel, cherry and other deciduous tree species.

Now that we found out the secret of their developing and growth, there is a question of how to discover them. We can just walk around digging up trees in the hope of finding the black truffles. It is true that the grass surrounding a tree that might hold the mushroom will appear like being burned. But it is not a certitude the mushroom will also be there. So the best way to harvest the mushroom is with the help of special trained scent dogs. In the optimum harvesting period, being also the period when the mushroom is mature, and a black truffle releases a distinctive smell, very noticeable by dogs. Thus, they will feel them and point the spot. Believe it or not, pigs are also used because they also have an excellent sense of smell. But, because of their omnivorous character, they will have the instinct of eating everything that appear to be edible. Thus, there is a risk for the pig to consume the black truffle after finding it.

So, what is the smell and flavor of these elusive mushrooms?

Their smell is a combination of strawberries, wet dirt, dried fruits with a sprinkle of cocoa. The taste of the black truffles will be more significant after heating it, and it will be a bit bitter, with a peppery flavor. Keeping the truffles in conditions of room temperature will lead to the loss of their unique flavors. But if they are stored in freezers, at 0 degrees Celsius, the characteristics will be preserved and enhanced. In cooking recipes, they go great with various meat types, pastas, soufflés, rice, sauces, soups and many more. Everything might be improved with the noble taste of these wonder mushrooms.