Truffle - the black diamond

Trüffel - der schwarze Diamant - Augustas Box

It is the most expensive edible mushroom in the world: the truffle. Because of its noble taste and high price, it is often referred to as black diamond.

You had a Gouda with truffles in the December box and the crémeux de bourgogne à la truffe in the January box, so it occurred to me to write to you more about truffles.

At first glance, the bulbous truffles don't look like much. But the first glance doesn't count for much in this case. It is overlaid by the intense initial aroma that the mushrooms exude and which already announces their culinary enjoyment.

Nevertheless, not all truffles are the same. There are high-quality and less high-quality, expensive and cheaper, white and black, summer and winter truffles.

The truffle is a mushroom that usually grows underground. It forms a connection with the root of the host plant - usually trees such as oak, beech or linden.

The stars among the truffles are black (tuber melanosporum) and white (tuber magnatum) truffles.

The white truffle has a strong smell and a subtle taste. Since the smell disappears when heated, the white truffle is never cooked, but only sliced ​​over the finished dish. Its peak season is from October to the end of December.

The black truffle, on the other hand, has a lot of taste and far less fragrance. Since the taste is not fleeting, but is passed on to the other dishes in the dish even when heated, it is also ideal for cooking and cooking with all fish, meat and stew dishes. Its peak season is early December to late March.

What makes truffles so expensive?

The noble truffles are so rare that a truffle hunter with a dog can sometimes only find 60-80 grams of white truffles or just 200-300 grams of black truffles in a whole day. Some days nothing at all.

Truffle time in Provence

What can Provence have to offer in winter? The days are short, the weather is full of disappointments. Nevertheless, culinary connoisseurs are drawn here right now: it's as if they too were smelling the scent of the truffles. Because Provence, more precisely the Vaucluse department, is the most important truffle producer in the world. Although truffles still thrive in the oak forests of Mont Ventoux, the days of wasteful abundance are over. Today, 90% of all Provençal truffles come from cultivated groves where oak trees infected with spores were planted. It takes ten years until the first harvest is possible. Then a truffière delivers the black diamonds for another 40 winters.

Truffles are born in April and May. There should be thunderstorms in April, not too cold in May, not too dry in June and July and a little damp during the grape harvest. Then in December there are excellent truffles, up to 35 tons in very good years. Only when they have become ripe do they develop their intense scent, and only then can dogs or pigs locate the inconspicuous lumps of earth.

On Friday morning there is a truffle market in Carpentras. You push yourself. Lots of old people, lots of flat caps, lots of plastic bags. Conspiratorial atmosphere. People whisper. Gives furtive glances into baskets and bags, sniffs and touches. The official part begins with the start signal from the market master via whistle. The providers line up and the work of the brokers (courtiers) begins. They routinely weigh the offer and hand over hidden banknotes.

When the truffle farmers celebrate their business success at lunchtime, the brokers' work continues. They sort the truffles they buy in the morning and divide them into two sizes and two qualities. The truffles stay in their earthy layer, so they stay in top condition for three to four days. The brokers send 7 kg of unpeeled truffles to traders in baskets.

If you buy a few truffles as a private individual, you should clean them and freeze them in sunflower seed oil; this is how they last best. Truffles are lightweight, just 100g is enough to flavor various dishes.

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