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White truffle (Latin Choiromyces venosus or Choiromyces meandriformis) is an unattractive-looking mushroom with excellent taste. Its pulp is highly valued in cooking, however, it is extremely difficult to find it without specially trained animals, which makes it the most expensive of all the mushrooms in the world.
In Russia, the white truffle is also called Troitsky or Polish. In the common people, another name is widespread - fat. A detailed description and photos of the white truffle are presented below.
What is White Truffle
This is a delicious variety of mushrooms with marsupial tuberous fruits that develop underground. The exact number of different subspecies of white truffles is still established, but among all known today, the most popular is the white Piedmont truffle, which grows in Italy. In appearance, this mushroom resembles Jerusalem artichoke.
The Tuscan white truffle is also among the most valuable species.
What does a white truffle look like?
The shape of the fruiting body of this mushroom differs from the traditional one - it is impossible to distinguish individual parts (stem, cap). It, like other varieties of truffle, is an irregularly shaped tuber or apothecia. It develops underground, only occasionally the tops of ripe fruit bodies peep out to the surface. Large specimens can reach 13-14 cm in diameter, however, on average they grow up to 9-10 cm. Young white truffles have firm and fleshy flesh and smooth skin. As it develops, the surface of the fruit bodies coarsens and becomes wrinkled. The color of the white truffle also changes with age - at the initial stage of ripening, the mushrooms are light, whitish-yellow, however, the skin darkens in older specimens. Over time, it takes on a reddish brown color, which makes the white truffle look like a potato.
Spore sacs in this species are located in the fruiting body. The flesh of young specimens is almost white. Ripe truffles are distinguished by their grayish flesh with yellowish-brown veins, and the core is stiffer than the edges. The smell intensifies as the fruiting body develops - at the last stage of ripening, they smell pleasantly of nuts.
Below is a sectional photo of a white truffle.
How the white truffle grows
This species grows underground at a depth of 6-10 cm. Occasionally the top of the fungus raises the soil, resulting in a small mound with cracks above it. The fruiting body itself above the surface of the earth can be seen even less often.
White truffle bears irregularly, often empty seasons. Harvested from late July to October, sometimes the harvest time stretches to November.
Advice! Very often the high yield of the white truffle coincides with the abundant fruiting of porcini mushrooms.
Where does the white truffle grow
In its natural environment, the mushroom grows in Europe. The area of its greatest distribution falls on the territory of France, Switzerland and Italy. In Russia, this species is not found so often, however, sometimes fruiting bodies can be found in the European part of the country. The following areas are considered mushroom locations:
- Moscow region;
Also, the white truffle grows in Russia on the territory of the Tula region, but cases of finding fruit bodies in this area are rare.
The preferred type of soil is sandy and clayey, of medium moisture. You should look for a crop in young coniferous and mixed forests under birch, oak, aspen and hazel. Particular attention is paid to areas with sparse vegetation and sparse deciduous litter.
Also, mushroom pickers are guided by additional signs of mushroom places - very often midges hover over the truffle mycelium. In particular, the aroma of the mushroom is especially attractive to red flies. In addition, sometimes the location of the mycelium is given out by small bumps on the surface of the soil, which are covered with small faults.
The color of the soil is also of great importance - it is grayish over the white truffle, as if the earth was sprinkled with a small amount of ash.
Important! The climatic conditions of the Moscow region make it possible to grow white truffles in the country.
Is it possible to eat Russian white truffle
The Russian white truffle, which has also been called the Trinity truffle for many centuries, is considered an edible mushroom, just like its famous Tuscan variety. The palatability of the pulp makes it possible to classify the mushroom in the fourth category - it is a delicious species with a high cost. The flesh of a white truffle tastes like a nut or meat. In Russian truffles, the fruit bodies are more reminiscent of chicken.
The smell of the pulp is distinguished by nutty notes, sometimes with an admixture of the aroma of roasted seeds.
Important! Mature mushrooms are most appreciated. Too young or overripe specimens have a less pronounced taste, which affects their value.
The benefits of white truffle
The benefits of this mushroom are due to its rich vitamin composition. The pulp contains:
- vitamin C, PP;
- B vitamins;
- useful carbohydrates;
When eaten, the mushroom has a beneficial effect on the human body, namely:
- improves blood composition;
- helps in the treatment of gout, gastritis and chronic colitis;
- has an antiviral effect;
- strengthens the immune system;
- normalizes metabolism;
- restores intestinal microflora.
It cannot cause obvious harm to health, however, it is not recommended to eat this mushroom for young children and pregnant women. Despite all the benefits, it is a rather difficult product to digest.
White truffle is also widely used in cosmetology, where it is used as a central component of oils, creams and masks for skin and hair. The benefits of truffle juice and pulp of fruit bodies from this point of view are as follows:
- mushroom extract has a beneficial effect on age wrinkles;
- helps to reduce hyperpigmentation;
- funds based on it have tightening properties.
Important! Freshly squeezed truffle juice helps in the treatment of glaucoma and many other eye conditions.
Which truffle is more expensive - white or black
White truffles are much less common than black ones, which is the reason for such a high cost. On average, the price for 1 kg of mushrooms can reach 3-4 thousand euros. The black subspecies is estimated at 1-2 thousand dollars per 1 kg.
Important! Only those mushrooms with a pedigree can be put up for the truffle auction. It notes the exact weight, the name of the search animal, as well as the location of the tree under which the truffle mushroom was found.
False doubles of Russian white truffle
It is very difficult to confuse white truffle with other mushrooms, but sometimes Bruma melanogaster is harvested instead. The double is distinguished by the black color of the core.
Despite the pleasant fruity aroma, this mushroom is not eaten.
Another similar variety is the deer truffle. It has a reddish brown color and is covered with warty formations.
The mushroom is considered inedible for humans, however, forest animals can eat it without harm to health.
Finally, sometimes white truffle is confused with common scleroderma (also common pseudo-raincoat). Mushrooms are distinguished by their yellowish surface color and dark core. Also this species smells unpleasant.
Fruiting bodies of scleroderma are inedible, as they contain a small amount of toxic substances.
Rules for collecting white truffles in Russia
Since the 15th century, specially trained animals have been used to search for white truffles - dogs and pigs, which can cost about 5 thousand. Without them, it is almost impossible to find this species.
Pigs (males) can smell the truffle scent from 10-20 m away and do not need special training, since the scent of the mushrooms reminds them of the scent of the female. On the other hand, using them is risky - a hungry pig can eat a find. To prevent this from happening, animals should wear muzzles.
In dogs, females smell the truffle smell much better than males. Unlike pigs, they do not eat mushrooms, but their training takes a long time.
Advice! It is better to look for mushrooms at night - during this period, the scent of the search animals is sharpened due to the increased humidity of the air.
For more information on how to harvest white truffles in the Moscow region, see the video below:
How to grow a white truffle at home
It is quite possible to grow this mushroom on your own. In particular, the territory of the Moscow region is suitable for growing white truffles. They do it according to the following scheme:
- You need to purchase truffle mycelium in a specialty store. Since the species is quite rare, the price will be high, so it is better to use the found mycelium, if you are lucky enough to find it.
- White truffle mycelium is used to infect the growths of hazel or hawthorn. In general, any trees and shrubs with which this species can form mycorrhiza are suitable: oak, birch, aspen, pine, etc.
- As soon as the mushrooms germinate, you need to wait about two weeks - during this time the mycelium will grow and take root in the roots of the plant.
- After the seedlings are infected, the growths continue to be grown in a special nursery, which is kept in quarantine.
- The next year, the truffle mycelium will grow and completely infect the substrate with mycelium. The growths during this time can grow by 20-25 cm. At this, the germination of white truffles is considered complete.
Important! Further care of mushrooms is reduced to the introduction of NPK fertilizers, the destruction of weeds with the help of herbicides and watering. If the fruit bodies are bare, they must be lightly sprinkled with earth.
How to make a white truffle
White truffles can be used in many different dishes, but they rarely serve as the main ingredient. Most often, the pulp is used as an additive, while the average weight of the product used is only 8 g.
In Italy, spaghetti and pasta with white truffle butter are popular. In France, fruit bodies are used for conservation, pickling in wine and pouring Provencal oils.
Butter-based white truffle sauce can be prepared as follows:
- Place 250 g of butter in a deep container and leave to soften.
- Washed white truffles (40 g) are finely rubbed and mixed with 2 tbsp. l. green onions. In addition to the mushrooms, add finely chopped herbs to taste and 1 teaspoon of Provencal herbs. Ground black pepper gives spiciness to the sauce.
- All this is mixed with oil and the resulting mass is sprinkled with ½ hour of salt.
- The mixture is brought to a homogeneous state and spread on foil. Then they make a small sausage from it and give it an even shape.
- For 30 minutes, the sauce blank is placed in the freezer.
This completes the preparation. The product has a long shelf life and goes well with many dishes.
The primary processing of the fruit bodies is that they are thoroughly washed in cold water, then allowed in wine and cleaned. The heat treatment of mushrooms should not be too long; it is enough to hold them in a preheated oven for five minutes. In general, white truffles are best served raw. To do this, they are thoroughly cleaned and cut very thinly.
How to store white truffle
Fresh mushrooms have a very short shelf life and are therefore recommended to be cooked shortly after being found. That is why the harvested crop is sold out so quickly, and in restaurants fresh mushrooms can be tasted only during the fruiting season.
In order to preserve the nutritional qualities of fruit bodies for at least six months, white truffles are dried or pickled. Additionally, you can extend the shelf life by immersing the mushrooms in oil or rice. It is also allowed to freeze harvested fruiting bodies, but this method is not used so often.
The best way to store white truffles is artificial drying. This process looks like this:
- First of all, the mushrooms must be cut into thin slices - their thickness should not exceed 4-5 mm. In no case should you wash the crop before cutting, otherwise the fruit bodies will absorb excess moisture. All dirt and debris is removed with a soft brush or cloth.
- To prevent the truffle slices from ripping out, they should not touch each other. Additionally, they are strung on a knitting needle.
- Directly drying the mushrooms is carried out in the oven, spreading them out on the wire rack. When using a baking sheet, it is first lined with parchment.
- The oven temperature is set at 40-50 ° C, while you do not need to close the door completely - otherwise the mushrooms will not dry, but bake. It is also advisable to turn on the convection mode, if the design of the oven provides for it. From time to time, the slices are turned over.
- You can tell that the white truffle is ready by the state of the pulp. It should become brittle, but not crumble.
- When the truffle slices are dry, they are put into cotton bags. Before cooking, the mushrooms are poured with water. After soaking, they acquire the taste and appearance of fresh truffles.
Advice! Dried white truffles attract flies. To protect fungi from insects, the baking sheets are covered with a double layer of gauze.
Another popular way of harvesting white truffles is pickling. Fruit bodies are preserved according to the following scheme:
- 1 kg of mushrooms is thoroughly washed and sprinkled with 1 teaspoon of salt. After that, the fruiting bodies are mixed to evenly distribute the salt.
- The next step is to place the truffles in clay pots.
- Then ½ tbsp. vinegar is mixed with the same amount of red wine and the resulting mixture is poured into pots. They are tightly covered with foil and put in the oven for 1-2 hours.
- When the heat subsides a little, the pots are left in a warm place for a day, after which they are again placed in the oven for a couple of hours. This process is repeated for four days.
- Then the pots are opened and filled with water to the very edge. The mushrooms are mixed and after 20-30 minutes the liquid is poured into a saucepan. The truffles are left in a colander to drain.
- The dried mushrooms are transferred to a ceramic container. At this time, the drained mushroom juice is mixed with a small amount of salt and spices. The resulting mixture is brought to a boil and truffles are poured over it.
- In this form, the mushrooms are left to cool. Then they are laid out in banks, poured with brine to the top and 1-2 tbsp. olive oil. The liquid level should be 2 cm higher than the mushroom mass.
This completes the process of marinating white truffles. Jars are tightly closed and stored in a cool dry place. In winter, pickled white truffles are used as an addition to various dishes.
Important! This method of harvesting is somewhat inferior to drying in the sense that the pulp of the mushrooms partially loses its taste. On the other hand, this difference is small.
It is not so easy to find a white truffle in Russia. Firstly, it is an extremely rare mushroom, and secondly, it grows underground. That is why it is almost impossible to find fruiting bodies without specially trained animals, however, trained dogs and pigs are very expensive. For this reason, it is more profitable to grow white truffles on your own, although this mushroom is rather capricious - it makes high demands on air temperature and soil moisture.
In Russia, white truffles can be grown in the European part of the country. In particular, the climate of the Moscow region is suitable for these purposes. The harvest is very small, however, the high cost of fruit bodies fully pays for the time and effort spent.
You can learn more about the white truffle in the video below: