What are Preserved Truffles?

Brief Guide to delicious Preserved Truffle Products!

As is the case with most foods, you can’t beat fresh. However, fresh truffles require careful planning because they aren’t cheap and you’ll only get a window of a few days to consume them. They’re also seasonal, so you might only be able to enjoy your favourite truffle for 2 or 3 months a year.

If you prefer to take things a little easier, but still crave the truffle experience, then preserved truffles are definitely the way forward.  With shelf-lives extending up to 4 years, you can enjoy them all year round in stress-free bliss!

Preserved truffles can also be a relatively inexpensive way of savouring truffles perhaps for the first time and the sheer range of products available means they are a great way of experimenting with different dishes.

They won’t match fresh truffles, but if prepared correctly and alongside other quality ingredients they can be absolutely exquisite.

How are preserved truffles prepared?

The majority of unsold fresh truffles (yes, some actually do go unsold – usually small, irregular shaped or cut pieces) are rushed off to small workshops to be transformed into a myriad of delightful concoctions.

They may be left whole, chopped up, sliced, blended or infused. If carried out correctly, the transformation process doesn’t alter the innate corporeal flavours of the truffle.

What type of preserved truffle products are there?

Preserved truffles can be broadly divided into 3 groups:

1. Real preserved truffles

All the classic white and black Italian truffles can be found in preserved form. They normally rest in their own juice with a little salt. They can also be found in carpaccio form or ready sliced.

2. Products which deliver the magical truffle flavours to other dishes

These include truffle oils, truffle butter, truffle juice, creams and sauces. Very popular with restaurant chefs all around Italy.

3. Ready to use creations

These are classic products with truffles added during their preparation and can be consumed as they are. This range includes literally hundreds of items, e.g. honeys, bruschetta, pestos, dry pasta, pasta sauces, cheese, patés, chocolates, biscuits, cakes, salt, polenta, beer, liqueurs….

Watch out for the Truffle Scams!

Unfortunately, as with most desirable products, there are certain unscrupulous companies who try to swindle their way onto our tables. Some use chemical flavourings instead of truffles and others cheaper, far  inferior truffles from Asia labelled as Italian. Truffle oils* in particular have gained a poor reputation for their artificial flavour. Our advice is to buy from trusted suppliers/producers.

*A lot of confusion surrounds truffle oils. The ones to avoid (or at least be aware of) are oils with chemical flavourings. However even the best truffle oils often contain natural truffle flavouring. This is because the lovely truffle fragrance tends to diminish relatively quickly in oils and the flavouring is used simply to keep it fresh and vibrant for as long as possible. The taste they confer to dishes is entirely down to the real truffle infusion which remains much more stable over time.

Award Winning Truffle Pesto

We have one of the largest ranges of preserved truffles in the UK including a number of award winning products – Please come in and have a look around.

Balsamic Vinegar and Truffle Glaze

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Guide to Italian Truffles

What are Truffles?

“Truffles, the Mozart of mushrooms.”

Gioacchino Rossini, Italian Composer(1792 – 1868)

Exotic, seductive, precious and hugely desirable. The appeal of truffles is undeniable. These mysterious mushrooms are as elusive as they are captivating and their timeless allure and rarity make them the culinary equivalent of gold.

But what are they exactly?

Truffles are the fruiting bodies of a subterranean mushroom, a hypogean fungus, called mycelium. Belonging to the order of tuberales (ascomycetes), they develop a mycorhizic symbiosis with ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ….

..Truffles are actually underground mushrooms which grow on the roots of certain hardwood trees, most commonly oak, willow, poplar, chestnut and hazelnut.

But before you go rushing out and digging up the neighbour’s weeping willow, remember truffles need 3 essential conditions: the right soil, the right climate and the right tree. These elements all come together in certain areas of North and Central Italy.

How do you find them?

Truffles are located by their smell and pigs have the best “nose” for them. The problem is, when they find one they tend to wolf it down and let’s face it, taking a sounder of swine into the woods for a few hours can be a bit tricky, not to mention messy!

Dogs are now much more popular, despite the fact they have no natural ability to smell truffles! Truffle hunters used to train their dogs by hiding pieces of Gorgonzola around the place for them to dig out, nowadays some truffle oil on bread does the job nicely. The most widely used breed is the Lagotto Romagnolo, chosen for their agility, digging prowess and dedication to the job.

Once trained, the hunter and faithful pooch will head off in the early hours armed with secret notebook akin to a treasure map with frenzied scrawlings of hidden paths, number of paces, the lay of the land, the soil conditions, the weather conditions and even the lunar cycle. (Some say truffles always grow again in the same place and under the same moon and that the best day for hunting truffles is the 5th morning after the full moon! Others say that’s nonsense..).

Types of Italian Truffles

Truffles can be divided into two main categories, black and white.

The White Truffle (Tartufo Magnatum Pico)

Season: Sept – end Dec
Il Re dei Re! The King of Kings, the white truffle. The most famous and delectable of them all and by far the most expensive! Truffle prices vary on a daily basis and even have their own bourse where Italian white truffle prices can reach £6000/kg.

Use: It is served in thin slivers on many first courses (eg. pasta dishes, risotto) and main courses (white or red meat, fish, egg dishes, potatoes etc.)

Black Winter/ Precious Black/ Perigord (Tuber Melanosporum)

Season: Dec – mid March
This black truffle comes under various names including the sweet rare truffle, precious black, Norcia truffle, Truffle de Perigord and, after the white truffle, is considered the most valuable and desirable. Renowned for its complex, slightly sweet notes and earthy undertones, it’s the most aromatic of the black truffles. Prices can reach £1500/kg for fully mature, whole, round pieces.

Use: It has many uses in international cuisine. Like the white, it can be shaved directly onto just cooked dishes of pasta, rice, meat, fish, potatoes and omelettes. It can also be added at the end of cooking so the heat will bring out all its flavour.

The Summer truffle (Tuber Aestivum)

Season: March – September
This black truffle is found in relatively large quantities and is widely used in preserved form or infused into oils, butters and creams. Prices vary from £80 – £300/Kg

Use: Best when added whole during cooking (like a rather expensive stock cube!).

Autumn Black (Tuber Uncinatum)

Season: End Sept – end Jan
Another black truffle, quite similar to the summer truffle but has a more decisive, intense aroma and flavour. Fresh prices can vary between £ 200 – £ 800/Kg

Use: great with tagliatelle, frittate or shaved onto potatoes.

The Spring White or Bianchetto Truffle (Tuber Borchii Vitt.)

Season: Feb – May
Cheaper than the white truffle, it has a strong musky/garlic-like aroma, which adds its own unique depth to many dishes. Price £ 250 – £ 600/Kg

Use: Can be used during cooking or shaved directly at the table. Try it with Polenta or on Bruschetta.

More to read? – How about our Guide to Preserved Truffles Products

Looking for fresh Italian truffles? check out our service here.

Here you can find our vast range of delicious preserved truffles.