That wonderful, tasty, earthy time of year is here again. All you need to know about truffles:
The season is here, so we thought we might list the essential facts in one place. Here they are:
1. Truffles grow on trees, the roots that is.
2. Truffles are a kind of mushroom.
3. Pigs are good at finding truffles, the problem is that they eat them. Trained truffle dogs don't.
4. The taste you are getting from your bottle of truffle oil is almost certainly coming from chemicals that mimick the real thing. That does not necessarily mean you mustn't use it.
5. The wonderful, earthy, potent aroma and flavor in truffles has a very short half-life. After only about 5 days after harvest the intensity has diminished by half.
6. Cooking truffles kills the flavor – that is why they are added to your dish at the end, raw. Freezing and the wrong handling (for example, shutting them up in a plastic bag) during transport will also put an end to all the fun.
7. Truffles can be cultivated by innoculatong the roots of trees. However, growth is entirely dependent on summer rains, making the harvest an uncertain affair no matter what. Hence the steep price. White winter truffles cannot (yet) be cultivated.
8. Because of all of the above, keep it simple. Our suggestion: Simply add razor thin slices of truffle to a plate of steaming, buttery pasta.
9. Choose a wine with "age" and "patina" to accompany that big, earthy, autumnal, unparallelled taste...