The truffle is one of the most highly praised but also one of the most expensive foodstuffs in the world. Even so, results are not even guaranteed unless you know exactly how to use it in the kitchen! Despite its deceptive scientific name ‘tuber magnatum’, the truffle is actually a fungus that forms and develops under the ground. It is particularly delicate and perishable, and therefore requires special care, so here is everything you need to know about using truffles!
Why don’t we clean truffles right away?
A freshly picked truffle is a bit dirty and covered in excess soil, which is only to be expected from something that has just been plucked from under the ground. However, cleaning is not the first task to be carried out. The fact that truffles on sale are not perfectly clean is not a mistake, but rather a technique for preserving them for as long as possible. Its peridium (outer skin) and a light layer of soil slow down the proliferation of microorganisms and its perishability, helping to keep it fresh and allowing it to continue to mature.
How to store your truffles
Rather than cleaning it, the first step is to ensure that the truffle is preserved properly. In order to best retain the aroma, we advise placing it in a refrigerator that isn’t too cold, wrapped in kitchen towel, gauze or a light odourless cloth, and then placed in a glass container. White truffles will last about a week, while black ones will last two or three days more. The paper should be changed every 1/2 day to prevent it from absorbing moisture from the truffle, causing it to mould and rot.
Alternative storage techniques
There are also some alternative storage methods. For example, you can freeze it for a maximum of 12 months, whole or grated but preferably in a vacuum packaging. However, you should be aware that part of the unmistakable aroma will be lost. You can also freeze it in the form of truffle butter, made by first dissolving and then solidifying the butter with a pinch of salt and truffle flakes. Another option is truffle sauce, in which truffle flakes are combined with extra virgin olive oil and gently heated with some garlic and salt. To extend the truffle’s shelf life, we can also store it as a preserve in oil by placing it in a jar and covering it completely with olive oil. This will allow it to last for at least 10 days.
How to clean truffles
Before you find out how to use truffles in cooking, it is essential to clean it thoroughly. All you need is a toothbrush (semi-hard for black truffles, which are more durable, and soft for white ones, which are more delicate) and a sharp knife. Gently brush the truffle to remove any residual soil, preferably without using water. If some particles are particularly difficult to eliminate, use the tip of the knife. If the truffle is very dirty, however, you can dip it in cold water for a minute, dry it well and then brush it.
How to cook truffles
At this point, the truffle is ready to be tasted. But how? White truffles are at their best when raw and simply grated, while black ones become sublime when cooked. As such, the most popular recipes for white truffles are the simple ones that pair it with delicate tastes in its raw state, such as tagliolini with butter and grated truffle, fried egg, pounded meat or risotto. Black truffles, on the other hand, release all of their aroma through light cooking, and are perfect in fillings, risottos, meatballs, soufflées, finger food and patè. You could even be bold and try it with fish!