Everything you must know about truffle
From research to preservation and cleansing, here is a vademecum with the most important tips, curiosities and information on truffle – an actual delicacy of unique scent and of many healthy properties. Let’s begin with the essential tools for a good truffle hunter, which are: his loyal dog, trained to hunt for truffles, and specific tools such as hoe and spade. Let’s then see how to clean truffle, once it’s been picked up, and how to preserve his flavour unaltered, in order to make tasty dishes and unique recipes.
Truffle hunting and truffle dogs
Hunting truffle goes back to the age of the Savoias, when an actual truffle hunting was performed with trained dogs and noble experts who came directly from abroad in order to participate or simply attend.
There already was the habit not to reveal the places where truffles used to be found, for the knowledge of the soil and truffle cultivations generally belongs to the prosperity of the hunter.
The main tool of the hunter is the hoe, with wooden handle and steel blade, or the spade, both used to extract truffles, with the obvious help from one or more dogs. Regarding the dogs, the training of a specific dog breed began to spread only from 1991: the Lagotto. The important thing remains training and taking care of the dog, independently of the breed.
Usually, the training begins when the dog is 6 months old until 3 or 4 years, when the dog is considered complete from an educational point of view.
Whether the area is more or less known, the truffle hunter adopts certain measurements. If he goes on an already known truffle reserve, the dog is pushed on that specific area, while if the reserve is new, and so unknown, he tries to proceed more carefully, well aware of following the dog in each step, in order to guide him, help him and reward him when necessary.
Other than spontaneous truffle reserves, developed thanks to a certain condition of the soil and the surrounding plants, in the last century scientific studies on the development of truffle growing – in other words, a creation of a favorable habitat for the growth of truffles and plantation of truffle-producing plants – have tripled.
The birth of this technique took place almost by chance from two French cousins, named Jean and Joseph Talon, who decided, in 1810, to reforest their oak grove, with the astounding result of an extraordinary growth of truffles, almost surely belonging to the genus Tuber Melanosporum.
We have to wait until 1865 when the truffle-growing technique is officially recognized and legalized by state laws, even if an actual truffle-growing started by the half of the 20th century in Italy.
By now, some good results have been reached with the black truffle species, while we still don’t have sufficiently good results with white truffle.
How to preserve truffle: time and place
For its perishability and limited availability, it is thought that each species of truffle is hardly disposable out of season. Nowadays many companies, including Mirko Tartufi, commit themselves not only to get fresh truffles, but also to preserve those out of season. This can be possible through different methods and preserving processes, allowing to use it all year long in the form of frozen truffle, truffle in oil, in brine and so on.
Talking about preserving fresh truffle, the most common method is to consume it within 3 day from the hunting, in order to avoid the scent and flavor to decrease. Generally, white truffle lasts up to 1 week, while the black truffle lasts about twice the time.
Where to preserve truffles? There are many measures to take, here is a few of them:
- in a glass jar, enveloped in paper towel (to be changed every day);
- in rice or corn flour;
- in a bain-marie: put the truffle, brushed and cleaned, in a jar enveloped in paper towel, soaked in salt and water, and boil for 20 minutes.;
- in sand: carefully brush the truffle and put it in dry sand, to be then preserved in a sealed box, in order not to let air in;
- in butter; envelop the brushed truffle in a towel soaked in white wine, cook it, and put it in a glass jar filled with molten butter;
- in salty water: clean the truffles in salty water, fill a sealed jar with 2/3 of salty water and truffles, boil it in bain-marie;
- in Marsala wine: clean the truffles with Marsala wine and cook them for 10 minutes in a pan filled with this liquored wine, put then both cooking water and truffle in sealed boxes;
- dried: this technique is usually used for thinly sliced black truffle, sun dried or oven dried and put it in boxes or jars.
How to clean truffle
Remember to clean the truffle before preserving it in the way we have just described. Every dirt residue is to be removed with a small brush. Not always, though: if the product is to be consumed within a short time, it is suggested to keep the truffle dirty, in order not to alter its freshness and compactness.
The truffle is to be carefully cleaned under cold tap water, right before using it.