Truffles are small mushrooms that can vary greatly in size and shape, depending on where they are grown. Although the word "truffle" is not always used to describe these small and sweet mushrooms, it actually refers to all of them. Some call them "succulents" but this is just a label that is applied more to the dried products than to the actual mushrooms themselves. The word "truffle" is actually derived from a Latin phrase, "Trussulum," which means a cluster or clump of mushrooms.
The most well known of these mushrooms, the black truffle, is a fruiting body that lives in warm and moist areas like the forest floor, near streams and lakes, on the bark of trees and bushes, in mossy areas, and in soil that is too acidic for the mushrooms to grow in. Other species of truffles include Geopora and Peziza, two other genera that also belong to the sub-genus Phylogeny. Many other fungi are also grouped under the category of truffles, including Georona, Leucatinium, Choiromyces, and others.
Because there are so many varieties of truffles, they are used in a wide variety of recipes as ingredients, such as in sauces, bread, desserts, and candies. You may also find black truffles in various forms, including dried, ground, powdered, smoked, salted, or pickled.
In Italy, they often use black truffles in pizza toppings, although white truffles are also eaten. In England, the black truffle is sometimes sold in powder form. The Swiss also use truffles, although most people use them in their pizzas. It is believed that truffles were introduced to Germany by the French, although there is no solid proof of this.
Traditionally, black truffles are made from the mushrooms Leuca reticulata, a type of mushroom found in the forests of North Africa and the Mediterranean region. In France, they are known as Leche le Cinnamombe while in Italy, they are known as Leuca Olimpia.
In France, white truffles are called, simply, "black truffles" and are prepared in much the same manner as the black variety. In England, a white version is known as "Cioccolata."
When black truffles are ground or powdered, they become very bitter, so the name "black truffle salt" is given to this product. It is then ground up into fine dust, mixed with water, then seasoned with salt and served at meals. For centuries, brine, a mixture of potatoes and water, has been used as a flavor in Italy as a preservative in sauces and soups, but it was not until 1795 that Italian scientist Ettore Ferrari discovered that when the salts are rubbed onto the surface of the mushroom, they become tender and moist.
Today, the dried mushrooms are prepared and used as a garnish on food. One of the most popular uses is as a garnish on pizzas. They are often incorporated into sandwiches, as garnishes on meat dishes, and placed on top of desserts such as cake or ice cream. Because of their popularity, they are often used in cooking to help add a distinctive flavor to a dish.
Truffles are also used in baking. They are used to create pastries, cakes, and pies, as well as decorative pieces such as sprigs in wine glasses. Truffles are used in many recipes, but it is most common to cook with white truffles. These mushrooms are usually cooked in a tomato sauce along with other herbs and spices to make a rich, spicy dish.
When cooking truffles, it is important to remember that the more you salt the mushrooms, the less they will be pungent. When cooking for a larger group, you may need to add more salt than you would when cooking individual mushrooms. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that the heavier the dish, the less you need to salt the mushrooms.
To season truffles, add one teaspoon of salt to about one-half teaspoon of truffle salt. When using a mixer to mix the ingredients, use a wooden spoon, rather than a kitchen spoon, which could scratch the surface of the mushrooms. The mix the ingredients together until the truffles are thoroughly coated.
Truffles are a versatile addition to a recipe and the flavor they add can enhance almost any dish. The more you know about this delicious treat, the more likely you are to enjoy the pleasure of experimenting. Whether you are planning a dinner for two, or an outdoor picnic with friends, or a night out on the town with your family, you will not regret the inclusion of truffle salt in your meal.