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Cooking with truffles

Cooking With Truffles

Truffles are hypogenous (underground) mushrooms that resemble stones and vary in size from a marble to a large ball. Few truffles are poisonous. However only a small number of truffles are considered to be delicacies by people throughout the world. Most truffles do not break the surface of the oil and instead must rely on animals to eat them and distribute their spores in order to grow more of their kind. To attract animals, truffles developed scents that grow stronger as they mature. Truffles grow 3 to 12 inches usually outside the roots of trees such as the oak, chestnut, and hazelnut and do not grow beyond the range of the branches. Truffle hunters or truffle farmers use trained pigs or dogs to locate the truffles that may be underground and ready to be taken carefully out. Truffles are not easy to cultivate and although farmers and scientists have managed through the last thirty years to improve the ability to grow truffles there is still not a full guarantee of growth. Truffles can take six or more years to mature before it can be seen if truffles are growing or not. When truffles are ready to harvest the process is very methodical, slow, and labor intensive. These facts about truffles make them one of the most expensive delicacies in the world.
After truffles are methodically harvested, truffles should be placed in paper bags with appropriate markings on the bag to differentiate the varieties that were harvested. This is especially important for truffle hunters to do because an expert will be needed to ensure they are edible.
Truffles can last for several days in a paper bag placed in a refrigerator. One should not place truffles in a plastic container because the lack of air from a sealed container is bad for them. A second way to keep truffles is to place them in a jar then in the freezer where they can last for several months. A third way truffles can be preserved is to put them in oil. However, if there is no pasteurization the shelf life of truffles at room temperature will be limited. A fourth way to store truffles is to put them in rice, but all the flavor of the truffles will be absorbed by the rice. The ideal way to use truffles is to consume them as soon as possible as fresh as possible.
When truffles are used in cooking they are generally eaten raw or are very lightly cooked because the flavor compounds of the truffle are highly unpredictable. Here are a few guidelines for using truffles in dishes.
First: The truffle should not to be used with other foods with strong flavors and overwhelming aromas. The flavors can clash so it is better to use truffles to flavor bland foods like pasta, rice, and potatoes.
Second: Fat is good for the truffle. Fat helps bring out the full flavor of the truffle, which is why they are paired with butter, cheese, and oils.
Third: One should maximize the flavor of the truffle by shaving, slivering, or slicing it. Anything more and the diner will not get the most taste from the truffle.
Fourth: Save the peel from a truffle. Do not throw away because the peel can add flavor to other recipes including sauces.
Fifth: If one has preserved truffles, they will not have the same flavor so if the is wish to enhance before preservation use Truffle oil or Concentrato or a Truffle Paste.
Sixth: Fresh truffles should be used within 3 days of purchase. Preserved truffles have a long shelf life if left unopened in the jar but once opened consume within a week.
Seventh: When using any truffle in a recipe one should be aware of the flavor it has before putting it with any food. Either trying the truffle first yourself or read about it beforehand to make the best use a truffle in a recipe.
The truffle is a world prize to those who farm it for profit, to the truffle hunters, to the people in the world market who sell it, and finally to those who cook with it. The truffle, although not fully tamed, has dazzled appetites and continues to grow in stature. It may take a lot to get a truffle to grow and come to harvest but the taste, aroma, and pleasure the truffle can bring to the taste buds is well worth it.

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