Tuber melanosporum is the truffle that drives people wild—it has dark, robustly-veined flesh that appears almost black-purple, and has the strongest flavor and aroma of all the black truffles.
Sometimes called the black Perigord truffle, after the legendary truffles of that region in France, this truffle can be found during the winter months in several parts of the Northern Hemisphere, including France, Italy and Spain. The season is generally from December through February, though it can vary.
Remarkably, even miraculously, the black winter truffle has finally been cultivated in the Southern Hemisphere. With its specific climate, acidic soil, cool winters and warm summers, Australia offers conditions ideal for truffles.
Truffières in Australia were planted with thousands of oak and hazelnut trees that were inoculated with truffle spores. Years of patience have been rewarded; they are now producing truffles in their winter season, which is June through August. This works out well for all the truffle devotees, who can enjoy the unmatched flavor of the winter truffle for another three months each year.
We are pleased to offer you the best of black winter truffles, whether they are of European or Australian origin, so that you can enjoy the ultimate culinary luxury, now for an extended season.
Just the facts
- Fresh black winter truffle (Tuber melanosporum)
- Sold as whole, intact pieces of approximately 1 oz. in weight
- Available from December to February (from France, Italy and Spain)
- Available from June to August (cultivated in Australia)
- For best taste, store in the refrigerator and use within 2-3 days of receipt
A truffle is an irregular, round-shaped fruiting body of fungi, which grows underground in a symbiotic and mysterious relationship with the roots of trees. On average, truffles vary in size from a walnut to a golf ball, but there are sometimes exceptional truffles that can weigh a pound or more.
Most commonly, truffles are found in France, Italy and Spain, but are also found in other countries. Because of their rarity (it takes years for a truffle to develop), and the trouble it takes to find them, truffles are expensive.
Intense secrecy surrounds the foraging process, and truffle hunters often seek them at night to avoid being followed by competitors who might discover the best collection sites. Although truffle hogs were used to locate the aromatic fungi historically, dogs are the more common modern hunting companion because they can be trained not to eat the truffles once they find them.
Until recently, cultivated truffles were an elusive mystery. But a microclimate in Western Australia has proven to be the ideal place for a truffière, where black winter truffles are now growing on the roots of oak and hazelnut trees. Entire orchards of these trees are producing a steady supply of quality black winter truffles, harvested in the traditional manner, with truffle-sniffing dogs.
And the best part is that in Australia, winter is from June through August, so for truffle fans, the season just got that much longer.
Black winter truffles are intense, and are best when cooked so their flavor is released. This is the truffle to shave paper thin and stuff under the skin of a capon, turkey, duck or pheasant before roasting. Foie gras terrines often feature layers of black truffle slices, for the ultimate flavor combination. As with any truffle, natural pairings include omelets, pasta, polentas, potatoes and risottos. Infuse wine or Armagnac sauces with the earthiness of the black truffle by grating a small amount into the sauce toward the end of cooking.
Storing truffles: Once a fresh truffle is out of the ground, it doesn’t keep long. To best preserve your truffle, wrap it in a paper towel, put in an airtight plastic container and set in the refrigerator. Do not clean the truffle until you are ready to use it. To clean it, gently remove any dirt that remains with a soft brush, then use the tip of a paring knife to loosen any pockets of dirt in the crevices, then lightly brush again.
Avoid condensation and humidity which can cause rot. If you wish, store the truffle with eggs in the refrigerator to impart its flavor into the eggs. Be sure the shells are perfectly dry. Do not store in dry rice, as the rice dehydrates the truffle. Unless of course, you want to infuse your rice with truffle scent, which can be quite nice.