We are now fully into the autumn/winter truffle season – my July column discussed summer truffles it is only fair we look at the winter varieties.
The black varieties at this time of year have a much stronger flavour but look the same as their summer cousins. There are two main varieties; Tuber Uncinatum or Burgundy truffle, and Tuber Melanosporum, usually known as Périgord truffle. More expensive than summer truffles, they are best eaten raw or added at the end of the cooking process so as not to lose too much of the incredible flavour.
The truffle price
The Burgundy truffle is milder in flavour than the Périgord, and cheaper at about £850-£900 per Kg – about £40 a truffle.
The Périgord truffle comes into season slightly later than the Burgundy, and you can expect to pay £1,500 per Kg or more, depending on availability. That is about £50 per truffle; but a little does go a long way.
The king of all truffles is the White truffle or Alba truffle, Tuber Magnatum, found in Italy (pictured above). These are one of the most expensive foodstuffs on the planet, currently priced at more than £2,500 per Kilo. One white truffle will therefore cost you about £100 – and will only be edible for about one week; after that they go squishy and are unusable. They should only be eaten raw – just freshly grated over scrambled eggs or pasta.
The largest white truffle discovered so far was found in December 2014 weighing in at 1.786Kg and sold at Sotheby’s, New York for $61,250 (£39,154)
Truffle oil warning
One interesting thing to remember; truffle oil does not contain truffle. Originally of course it was truffle-infused olive oil, but invariably modern truffle oils are now just oil flavoured with a synthetic chemical that mimics the truffle aroma.
Another thing to remember when storing your truffle, keep them wrapped in paper tissue in the refrigerator, never store on rice as this will draw the flavour from the truffle.
My personal source of all things truffle is The Truffle Hunter, based in Gloucestershire. www.trufflehunter.co.uk.
By Simon Vernon