Cooking Basic ingredients of Italian cuisine Black truffles

Black truffles

Black truffle: nutritive value, how to clean, how to use in Italian cuisine ...

black truffles - tuber aestivum -
Black truffle of Italy

Black truffle

Nutritive value in 100 g edible part

Edible part % 79%
Water g 76.3
Protein g 6
Total fat g 0.5
Carbohydrates g 0.7
Total dietary fiber g 9.4
Food energy kcal 31
kJ 130
Sodium mg 77.0
Potassium mg 478.5
Iron mg 3.5
Calcium mg 24.0
Phosphorus mg 62.0
Thiamin mg 0.0
Riboflavin mg 0.1
Niacin mg 2.0
Vitamin A µg 0.0
Vitamin C mg 1.0

Description. Truffle is a mushroom that grows underground. It has a rind called peridium and inside there is the pulp called gleba. Black truffle is rare and so it's expensive. But it costs less than white truffles of Alba (Piedmont).
Besides the summer quality of black truffle is less expensive than the winter one.

Truffle varieties. There are a lot of truffle varieties. The most important in Italy are:

Tuber melanosporum or fine black truffle. It is one of the most popular truffles in the world.
Its gleba has a black-brownish colouring. The warty peridium is deep black. Its period of ripeness is between the half of november and the half of march. The fine black truffles have their best aroma in January. The fruit pulp is the deep black which can turn slightly violet. The white veins, contrary to the winter truffle (Tuber brumale), are finely defined. In its early stages (November, December) the fruit pulp is still light and the surface gleams somewhat reddishly. These have very little aroma and are hardly worth the money. In Italy it grows in the central part (Umbria, Marches ..), in Piedmont and Veneto.

Tuber brumale: it's called the winter truffle. It looks similar to the black truffle. Even experts can be fooled if they look only its external appearance. Only the aroma and the rougher and lighter veins distinguish the winter truffle from the fine black truffle. Winter truffles are usually a bit smaller, but this is not a reliable feature. Its period of ripeness is between the half of november and the half of march.

Tuber aestivum: it's called summer black truffle or scorzone. Its period of ripeness is between the beginning of may and the end of august. It is recognizable by its black, rough, warted peridium. The warts are almost like pyramids and the gleba has a yellow-brownish colouring with numerous light veins. The quality of the black summer truffle is good even if its aroma is more delicate than the fine black truffle aroma. For this reason and for its taste similar to traditional mushrooms, its price is lower.

Tuber uncinatum: it's called uncinate truffle or winter scorzone or black truffle from Fragno. Its period of ripeness is between the beginning of october and the end of december. It's similar to Tuber aestivum but it has smaller warts, its gleba is darker and aroma is stronger.

Buying, cleaning and keeping. You can buy the black truffle fresh or canned.
If you buy it fresh, you have to wash it with a little brush under cold running water so you can remove all the earth.
Then let it dry and then grate. Cover with extra virgin olive oil and season to taste with salt, if you want (grated truffles in oil).
Preserve it in the refrigerator for some days.
If you buy canned truffles, you have to follow the instructions on the package.

How truffle is used in Italy. In Umbria truffles can be used for dressing its typical pasta: strangozzi. But you can also dress spaghetti or little noodles. It's very easy to prepare this dish. Boil pasta in abundant salt water following the instructions on the package, drain very well and dress with grated truffles in oil. Add other olive oil, if you want. You have to use 10-15 g black truffles for 80 g pasta. It serves one. But you can increase this quantity, if you want.
You can also arrange truffle slices on carpaccio (paper-thin slices of raw beef) dressed with salt, lemon juice and olive oil.
You can also prepare little omelettes adding some tablespoons grated truffles in oil while you are beating eggs. Follow the step-by-step instructions to prepare truffle omelette in this page. In the central part of Italy (especially Umbria) people use to serve them as antipasto accompanied with cheese and salami.
You can flavour rabbit or lamb stew. And finally you can prepare bruschetta (little toasts): grill bread slices and then spread grated truffles in oil. It's very tasty!

Finally we want to give you some tips about the use of fine black truffles:

  • - black truffle must be grated or ground in a mortar; don't cut it into slices
  • - don't cook or warm it
  • - dress it with extra virgin olive oil and salt
  • - dress roast or steamed fresh water fish with grated truffles in oil
  • - dress roast or boiled poultry with grated truffles in oil
  • - the best solution for black truffle is using it to dress eggs: omelette, fried eggs, poached eggs
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