Meet the Black Truffle: A Fungus So Expensive It's Called the “Black Diamond”

Written by Felipe Costa

ArqBahia team of authors.

When people hear the words “black truffle” they automatically think of haute cuisine, elegant dishes and Michelin stars. And although it's likely that you've already heard of this delicacy, many people haven't yet had the pleasure of tasting it. So, after all, what do truffles taste like and the best ways to enjoy them? Let's take a look at this delicious ingredient and how to enjoy it!

And remember: if you also want to know about white truffles and summer truffles, we have another post here on the website about it! Access here.

What is a black truffle?

Black truffles are expensive, but worth every bite!

Black truffle is a species of fungus native to southern Europe, in countries such as Spain, France and Italy, and is used in the cuisine of these countries. The elite of black truffles is the Périgord variety, originally from France. Truffles grow underground, usually near the roots of oak, hazelnut and cherry trees, among others.

In Spain, the tradition of collecting truffles and other wild mushrooms goes back generations. Eastern and northeastern Spain, in particular, have high concentrations of the “black diamond”. Traditionally, dogs or pigs detect the scent of truffles underground and alert their owners. Black truffles emanate an earthy aroma, the result of their interactions with neighboring plants, animals and insects. It is also through these interactions that truffles can reproduce, releasing spores that ensure their continued growth.

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How does it taste?

So what does this fungus taste like? Truffles have a deep aroma and an intense fragrance that precedes their flavor. Earthy, mossy and pungent, the best way to describe their flavor is to include them in the category umami. Also known as the fifth taste, this lesser-known flavor is salty and reminiscent of meat, broth, and fish. Black truffles evoke this flavor, almost unctuous, garlic, olive, mushroom, a completely unique fragrance.

Due to their distinctive flavor, they can amplify and intensify the flavors of the dishes with which they are combined. Black truffles are available six to nine months of the year and are more affordable than the more expensive variety, the coveted white truffle. As truffles now grow in more places around the world, they are more accessible to consume and are not just restricted to gourmet cuisine.

How to enjoy

The wonderful thing about black truffles is that they are now more accessible than ever. It's important to note that truffles are best when fresh and have a shelf life of just a few weeks or less following proper storage. Keep your truffles individually wrapped in paper towels and then place them in a sealed glass jar. Store the jar in the vegetable drawer for maximum freshness. Black truffles can also be frozen, so don't worry if you can't consume them quickly. Wrap them in aluminum foil or freezer bags, removing all the air. They can be kept in the freezer for up to three months.

A great way to incorporate this delicious ingredient into your cooking is through truffle oil. You can infuse your already delicious Spanish olive oil with black truffles and then use it to finish a dish for a burst of flavor. Drizzle lightly over your favorite meat or mushroom dishes, or even incorporate it into your favorite vinaigrette to give your salads a pop of flavor. You only need a small amount of truffle oil to liven up a dish, so use it sparingly!



      

You can also garnish egg, chicken, pasta, and rice dishes with thin slices of truffle to instantly amplify the flavor. A very famous and certainly delicious recipe is truffle risotto, a comforting dish that will leave you wanting more. You can also use your truffles to make truffle butter, an unctuous and sinful cream that goes great with a variety of foods!

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