Posted 11.03.20 / Kitchen secrets - things your Nonna never told you
Truffles – history, tips and nutritional benefits
As one of the most prized epicurean delights, truffles have been enjoyed around the world for thousands of years.
This fungal delicacy was found on the plates of gourmands as far back as the Roman and Greek empires. Today, as the culinary popularity of these edible fungi continues to thrive, researchers are equally intrigued by their biology and nutritional and medicinal applications.
Nutrition: Truffles are rich in nutrients like carbohydrates, protein, fiber, minerals, fatty acids and amino acids. Studies have identified diverse bioactive compounds in truffles such as phenolics, flavonoids and polysaccharide. This discovery has revealed truffles have potential as anticancer, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic agents. Learn more here in an article published June 2020 in the peer-reviewed journal Fungal Biology and Biotechnology.
Characteristics:From North America to Europe and China, there are more than 100 different truffle species known and found worldwide.
Truffles live in symbiosis with plant and tree roots, growing underground in a depth between 5 to 10 cm and are typically uncovered by trained dogs.
White truffles are the most prized and pungent tasting–and the most expensive truffle found.
Here, at Verdicchio Ristorante, we currently have autumn black truffles (Tuber Uncinatum Chatin). Also known as the Burgundy truffle, these truffles can be enjoyed raw or slightly cooked. In Italy, autumn truffles are enjoyed warm because they release more aroma–just sautee them slightly in olive oil or butter. They go perfectly with old Nebbiolo, Barolo, Barbaresco but even Montepulciano and Sagrantino wines.
The truffles we source are from Umbria, Italy, which is the same species and harvested from the same soil as the famous Alba zone. However, the demand for Alba truffles far outweigh what the town can produce. The tiny town can only produce enough truffles for its own residents, let alone export them. So, be wary of anyone claiming they are selling Alba truffles.
Surprising fact: If you are used to the flavour of truffle-infused oil and food products, you might be surprised with the delicate taste of a fresh truffle. Truffle-flavoured products are not made with real truffles but the chemical, 2,4-dithiapentane, also known as bis (methylthio) methane, which produces a synthetic truffle smell.
Tips: Truffles are best eaten immediately! Every day they lose moisture and aroma, so to preserve truffles a little longer, wrap them in a paper towel and then place in a ziplock or plastic bag in the fridge. Change the towel daily. Truffles can be preserved longer, however, like any vegetable left too long in the fridge, flavor and nutritional value could be compromised. You can also freeze truffles by wrapping in foil. When you are ready to use them, shave while they are still frozen.
– Laura Stradiotto Gregorini, Registered Health and Nutrition Counsellor, firstname.lastname@example.org