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Truffle 101

23 July 2019

It is expensive, seasonal, and has an exceptional, unique flavor. It is an important attribute of the restaurant menu and it has not fallen out of cooking fashion for centuries. Yes, we are talking about the royal mushroom — truffle.


True truffles are a rare delight and not an opportunity to be missed. Each kind of truffle is firmly in the “umami” category of taste — very earthy and doesn’t need a lot of salt to trip your tastebuds. This exotic fruiting body belongs to the genus Tuber. Truffles grow underground and form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of many trees. Symbiotic relationships indicate that there is an exchange of nutrients; basically, the tuber uses nutrients from the trees. 


Truffle is the most expensive mushroom, and one of the most exclusive ingredients in the world, which is why true connoisseurs call it the “diamond of the kitchen”. For centuries, humans have relied on the keen smelling sense of pigs and dogs to locate truffles. However, dogs, who are known to be more obedient than pigs and have less of an affinity towards the taste of truffles, have overtaken the role. So what makes a female pig go so crazy over truffles? The musky aroma is similar to that of a potential mate’s pheromone, so strong and recognizable to the snout, that even though buried deep inside the ground, the pigs still manage to find them. 


Interesting fact: using pigs to find truffles has been banned in Italy since 1985. Pigs’ hooves damage root systems, making it less likely the same host-tree will yield truffles another year.


There are many varieties of truffle, the most popular being White Truffle, Winter Truffle, Summer Truffle, Burgundy Truffle & Bianchetto Truffle. The prices vary for different types of truffles, the highest being for White Truffle.


So, what makes truffles so expensive? Truffles are seasonal and extremely rare. As mentioned before, truffles grow in very specific conditions, which makes cultivation a difficult job. The truffle grows only where there the soil is suitable, temperature is sufficiently high and the location is right. One more thing that makes a truffle valuable is that it is difficult to get as their fruiting bodies grow underground.


Precious and pungent fresh truffles are usually served sparingly so as not to overpower dishes — or drain customers’ bank accounts. Black Truffles are sliced or peeled and can be used raw or lightly cooked, while White Truffles are just carefully wiped clean and should never be cooked. They have a distinct peppery taste and are usually sliced raw directly onto the dish.


The wide range of Urbani Truffle Products is a much more accessible way to incorporate that unique umami flavour into everyday dishes. Elevate humble meals you’ve cooked a million times before, into something extra special and remember: with such a rich, pungent flavour profile, the smallest amount makes a big difference, so no need to save for the best.


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