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WHAT IS A BLACK TRUFFLE?

It is the most famous member of the Tuber melanosporum family of fungi.  Unlike mushrooms though, truffles grow completely below ground.  While a black truffle might look a bit like a potato (another tuber), they certainly don’t cost the same.  In France’s Perigord and Provence regions, eating them is said to be akin to a religious experience.  Black truffles actually come in a range of colors and can be dark brown at times.  They are exceptionally difficult to harvest being both underground and blending in extremely well with the neighboring soil even when dug up.  Pigs are traditionally used, but while they are the best at truffle hunting, they are also the best at eating them.  For a wild hog, truffles are like crack cocaine.  Many truffle hunters have switched to dogs that are both easier to work with, and don’t grow to an intimidatingly massive size.

WHY ARE BLACK TRUFFLES GOOD FOR YOU?

They have many of the same health benefits as mushrooms.  However they are absolutely not healthy for your bank account.

WHEN ARE BLACK TRUFFLES IN SEASON?

Traditionally the European black truffle is in season from mid-November to mid-March.  This can vary a bit depending on locale and weather conditions.

HOW SHOULD BLACK TRUFFLES BE STORED?

Pat them dry and store them in a ziplock bag in your refrigerator.  Remember, they are VERY pungent so anything in the vicinity is going to get impacted.  You can also freeze fresh black truffles for up to 10 months.  However don’t keep taking them in and out every time you want to use them.  Cut your black truffle first in more manageable portions (not too small), put into a sealed ziplock bag, and then freeze.  Double bagging here isn’t a bad idea either.  And make sure to change the paper towel in the freezer bag regularly, as it absorbs moisture.  Your freezer is cold, but has a lot of water (talking to you ice cube tray) as well.

WHAT ABOUT TRUFFLE OIL, IS THAT A MORE AFFORDABLE WAY TO ADD TRUFFLES TO MY DISH?

Well that depends.  If you mean actually adding something that came from a truffle then no, not at all.  If you mean pouring an oil that has been artificially made to taste like a truffle, then sure that is a cheaper way to add truffle flavor to your dish.  Chefs who know what they’re doing tend to avoid truffle oils.  This isn’t unusual in the food industry, otherwise why would beef products like fast food hamburgers need a “natural beef flavor” added?

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