Saturday, January 30, 2010

We know of mushrooms that we encounter in our local market, and what about truffles? Like most people, we may be wondering what truffles are, and why there is such focus on truffles.

Truffles (right) are a rare type of edible mushrooms that grow underground the roots of truffle oaks, and grow only in certain climates like Italy and France. Truffles are warty, potato-shaped fungus that range in size from that of a walnut to a man's fist. They are superior  in imparting earthly flavor and aroma in a dish.  These carefully-handpicked fungus  promotes the French and Italian gastronomy of mushrooms and truffles kept alive internationally.

History of Mushrooms
Shiitake Mushrooms (Sliced) 8 oz.The consumption of edible mushrooms and truffles dates to several hundreds of years ago where ancient people used these fungi as food delicacies and medicine. Historically, mushrooms were easy to preserve but not so easy to cultivate, yet the challenge rose to popularity in the 1800’s and have reached at least more than 50 countries in the world engaged in its commercial cultivation today. Among the hundreds of edible mushrooms species, truffles, chanterelles (top left), and porcini (below right), are among the most called for culinary purposes.

Taste Profiles of Mushrooms
Fungus and wild in nature, truffles carry an extremely powerful taste of mushrooms and are extremely expensive. It has an earthy taste and a distinctive musky odor. The strength in the taste of truffles decreases very fast that it is best to consume them few days after they are harvested. Opting to preserved truffles and dried mushrooms had become very fashionable that we can preserve our own truffles and mushrooms in a bland of oil.

Preparing & Cooking Truffles
Mushrooms must be washed with water and slightly brushed to remove the soils. Since they will be used fresh and unpeeled, both the inner and outside must be immaculate. 

Traditionally, truffles are eaten raw or lightly cooked. They are wonderful when gently sauteed in butter added with cream for a magnificent sauce.  

White truffles are excellent on white meats, risotto, or mushroom stuffing,  adding flavor to pasta.  Never cook, simply shave the truffles raw and drizzle over pizza, mixed into pate or grated into soups. 

Black Italian, French and Chinese truffles go well with red meats, dark meat poultry and perfect with red wine sauces,  cheeses and soups.  Black truffles can be used either fresh or slowly simmered. You can glorify any meal with thinly-slices of summer truffles and splurge into wildness.

Storing Mushrooms Truffles
Fresh mushrooms should be consumed within or at least three days. To make your truffles last for several days, store them in a paper bag and place inside the refrigerator crisper. To last for several months, keep truffles inside a freezer-proof glass jar and freeze. Storing mushrooms in a paper bag is a good storage alternative for proper ventilation of the mushrooms. Storing truffles in oil is another option. Packaged mushrooms and truffles now are enjoyable and convenient to store.