African truffle (steppe): edibility, description and photo

African truffle (steppe): edibility, description and photo

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Truffles are called marsupial mushrooms of the order Pecicia, which includes the genus Tuber, Choiromy, Elaphomyces and Terfezia. True truffles are only varieties of the genus Tuber. They and edible representatives of other genera are valuable delicacies. Truffles grow underground, multiply by spores, and form mycorrhiza with various plants. In appearance they resemble small tubers of irregularly shaped potatoes, they have a strong aroma of walnuts or fried seeds. Fungi are spread by animals that find them by smell and subsequently disperse their spores. Steppe truffle is a common name for mushrooms of the genus Terfezia, which includes about 15 varieties. One of them, the African truffle, will be discussed later.

Steppe truffles are like small unhealthy potatoes

What does steppe truffle look like?

African steppe truffle (Terfezia leonis or Terfezia araneria) grows in nests of 3-5 pieces. It looks like a spherical potato of irregular shape, with a smooth or fine-grained brownish surface. Growing mushrooms are firm to the touch, but softer and more elastic as they mature. Fruiting bodies are 2-12 cm in diameter, have a mass of 20-200 g. In color, they are initially light, yellowish, in the process of growth they become creamy brown, later darken to brown or black. In the early stages of development, they are located among a dense plexus of mycelium, later they lie freely in the ground, adjoining it with one side. The flesh of the steppe mushroom is fleshy, juicy, white, creamy or yellowish, turns brown over time, with many sinuous veins. The fruit coat (peridium) is whitish-pink, 2-3 cm thick. The spore bags are randomly located inside the pulp, contain up to 8 ovoid or spherical spores, do not break down into powder when ripe. Steppe truffle has a light mushroom aroma and pleasant, but inexpressive taste. In terms of quality, it is significantly lower than French, Italian, white, summer truffles.

The cut shows a creamy pulp with whitish veins

Where does African truffle grow?

The area of ​​the steppe truffle covers arid and semi-arid regions of the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, Southwest Asia, Europe, and the territory of the former Soviet Union. Mushrooms prefer high pH calcareous soils. Having formed underground, they rise close to the surface as they grow, so that experienced gatherers can easily find them without the help of specially trained animals. The steppe truffle is adapted to survive in extreme heat and drought conditions. It is in a symbiotic relationship with herbs and shrubs of the Ladannikov family. Fruiting from August to November.

Is it possible to eat steppe truffle

The culinary history of African truffles goes back over 2,300 years. In terms of biochemical composition, it does not differ from other mushrooms, it also contains proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins A, B1, B2, PP, C, carotene, dietary fiber. Micro- and macroelements are contained in it in small amounts:

  1. Antioxidants included in a balanced diet can reduce the risk of cancer.
  2. Substances used in the treatment of senile cataracts in traditional and official medicine.

Steppe truffles have a general strengthening and stimulating effect on the body, have a beneficial effect on the immune system and the nervous system.

False doubles

The steppe truffle has counterparts, the use of which leads to poisoning. It is noteworthy that they are completely safe for animals and are not only food for them, but also a medicine.

Deer Truffle (Elaphomyces granulatus)

Other names for the mushroom are granular elafomyces, parga, parushka. The similarity with the steppe truffle is determined by external signs and by the fact that it also grows underground. Fruit bodies are spherical, with a smooth or warty surface, brown or black in color. The peel is pink or grayish on the cut. The pulp is gray, by the time of ripening it crumbles into spore powder, has the smell of raw potatoes. Reindeer truffle forms mycorrhiza with conifers. It grows from July to November.

Common pseudo-raincoat (Scleroder macitrinum)

Fruit bodies are laid as underground, as they grow, they come to the surface. They have a tuberous shape, dense and tough to the touch. The outer shell is yellowish brown, covered with cracks and brown scales. The pulp of a young mushroom is fleshy, juicy, light. Over time, it darkens from the center to the edge, becomes brown or black-purple, acquires a pungent unpleasant odor. When the pseudo-raincoat matures, a crack forms at its top, through which spore powder comes out. The mushroom is poisonous, its use can be fatal.

Melanogaster broomeanus

A rare species, listed in the Red Data Book of the Novosibirsk Region. Fruit bodies irregularly tuberous, up to 8 cm in diameter, brown in color, with a smooth or slightly felt surface. The pulp is brown or brown-black, consists of rounded chambers filled with a gelatinous substance. Melanogaster has a pleasant fruity smell. Grows in deciduous forests, lies shallow in the soil under deciduous litter. Ranked among inedible mushrooms.

Melanogaster ambiguus

The shape of the fungus varies from spherical to ellipsoidal, the outer shell is dull, velvety, grayish brown or olive brown, cracks with age. The pulp is whitish with bluish-black chambers; when ripe, it becomes reddish-brown or black with whitish veins. Young specimens exude a pleasant fruity aroma, adults - an unpleasant smell, reminiscent of rotting onions.

Common Rhizopogon (Rhizopogon vulgaris)

Rounded, brownish fruiting bodies of rhizopogon up to 5 cm in diameter are found in coniferous forests. Young mushrooms are velvety to the touch, old ones are smooth. The inside of the fungus is dense, yellowish, sometimes brownish-green. The pulp consists of many narrow spore chambers. It is considered edible, but it is recommended to eat young fruiting bodies.

Inexperienced mushroom pickers may mistake young specimens of some types of raincoats, rootstocks, and underground varnish for a steppe truffle.

Collection rules and use

In order to collect African truffles, you must first find them. The places of growth of these fungi are identified by the plants with which they form mycorrhiza - in this case, it is a cistus or sunbeam. The steppe truffle betrays its presence with a small bump or crack in the soil. The mushroom is dug out using a special narrow spatula, trying not to damage the mycelium. Touching the fruiting body with your hands is extremely undesirable, this significantly reduces its shelf life. It should be remembered that truffles grow in nests, if you find one mushroom, you should look for others nearby.

Advice! Like any other type of mushroom, steppe truffle grows in permanent places: once you find a mycelium, you can come to it many times.

It is used in cooking, medicine and cosmetology. The mushroom can be eaten raw or cooked in any way you want. It is added to sauces, salads, added to soups as a fragrant seasoning. The mushroom does not need to be peeled. It is thoroughly washed, after which it is cut with it or grated.


Steppe truffle is a tasty, healthy, nutritious mushroom with medicinal properties. It is inferior to real truffles in its taste characteristics, but in a number of countries of the world it is valuable only because it is able to exist in conditions of extreme heat and drought. Bedouins value this mushroom highly and consider it a special gift from God. They call him the sheikh. The African truffle is even mentioned in the Qur'an as a remedy for eye diseases.

Watch the video: $100 an ounce. Amazing Black Perigord Truffle explained. (February 2023).

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