Truffles have fascinated people for thousands of years and they have been collected for at least 3600 years. Their attraction is their tantalizing taste and aroma, which is unforgettable. The taste and aroma of commercially collected truffles is so intense that they are used as a flavouring instead of a separate dish. Magical powers and virtues have
even been attributed to truffles. Growing underground, they are difficult to find and very expensive as a result. Every Spring, truffle hunters in Europe take to the woods, hoping that the sensitive noses of their trained pigs and dogs will lead them to buried treasure.
The White Truffle is considered by some connoisseurs to possess a superior smell and flavour than the black. The White Truffle comes mainly from the Piedmont region in northern Italy and, most famously, in the countryside around the city of Alba, and is also found in Croatia. Growing symbiotically with oak, hazel, poplar and beech and fruiting in
autumn, they have a thick, smooth to wrinkled tan coloured outer skin, somewhat rough in texture, which can reach 12cm diameter and 500g, though most are usually much smaller. The flesh is pale creamy white or brown with white marbling. Like the French black truffles, Italian White Truffles are very highly esteemed. White Truffles are more expensive than Black Truffles. The White Truffle market in Alba is busiest in the months of October and November.
The White Truffles produce a scent that mimics a male pig sex hormone, and for this reason, female pigs have been used historically in Europe to help find truffles. However, more recently, dogs have become preferred for truffle hunting since they can be trained to just find the truffles whereas sows eat the truffles as soon as they find them.
Historically, attempts to cultivate White Truffles has met with poor success. In the last 30 years, new attempts for mass production of truffles have been started. Eighty percent of the truffles now produced in France come from specially planted truffle-fields. Nonetheless, production has yet to recover its 1900s peaks. Local farmers are opposed
to a return of mass production, which would decrease the price of truffles. It is estimated that the world market could absorb 50 times more truffles than France currently produces. There are now truffle-growing areas in Spain, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, North
America and Britain.
Without a trained dog (or pig!) to locate them, most mushroom hunters never find a White Truffle.
The White Truffles have a penetrating, faintly garlicky aroma, with an intense flavour. They are generally served uncooked and shaved over steaming buttered pasta or salads. White or black paper-thin truffle slices may be inserted into meats, under the skins of roasted fowl, in foie gras preparations, in pâtés, or in stuffings. Some specialty cheeses contain truffles as well. If the white truffle is cooked, it loses the strong natural flavour so it is generally best when eaten raw. However, with cooked foods, white truffles can be cut raw into paper-thin slices to be added after the main ingredients are cooked for egg dishes such as omelettes or scrambled eggs, pasta, risotto, salads, sauces, or meats
such as turkey, chicken, quail that are white in colour, or rabbit, and veal meat. Other ingredients that blend well with the flavour of White Truffles are Asiago, Parmesan, and Romano cheeses; mildly bitter tasting greens such as curly endive; and hard sausage or cured hams such as prosciutto. Fresh white truffles cannot be stored for long periods of time and they do not freeze well, so they are best eaten shortly after being harvested.
Simple White Truffle Pasta (serves 4 to 6)
To get maximum enjoyment from this dish you need to use prime ingredients. Use good butter with flavour and fragrance and a Parmigiano-Reggiano that tastes creamy and complex. Do not wet the truffle when cleaning it. Merely brush it with a soft brush to remove any dirt. Shave or cut paper thin. Store any leftover truffle wrapped in a paper towel then placed in a sealed plastic container. Keep in the refrigerator and use within a week.
1 pound homemade fresh egg pasta, or a premium brand of dried pasta
6 quarts boiling salted water
6 to 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 fresh White Truffle
Warm soup dishes in a 200 degree oven. Drop the pasta in the boiling water and cook at a boil until barely tender to the bite. Drain and return to the pasta pot. Toss with the butter, salt and pepper to taste, and the cheese. Use tongs to pile the pasta in individual heated soup dishes. At the table shave a generous amount of the truffle overeach serving.
Hi just reading yr site on how impossible it is to find a white truffe without the use of animals. I live in spain and a couple of old boys showed me how to find the white truffle without animals and so far i have found 5 weighing approx 200grams. can i preserve them as they go off quickly, and can i sell them and at whet price
you can dry or freeze them. Where in Spain are you I am in Andalucia. Would you share your tips for finding?
ruby melland on
Interesting reading your site! I'm in Wisconsin,Eau Claire. U.S.A. My question: Do they have truffles in Wisconsin? I don't go to the woods so I have no idea....
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