HOW TO CHOOSE A BLACK TRUFFLE

 
As we gathered around the table for our welcome dinner at the farmhouse in Provence, our host Sherry Page gave us our first lesson on the Perigord black truffle, which is scientifically known as tuber melanosporum. Of the black truffles, the Perigord species is generally the most highly prized, and is most commonly found in the south of France. 

How to Choose a Good Black Perigord Truffle
  • Weight to size: When you pick up a truffle, it should be heavy for its size. A good weight to size ratio is an indicator of freshness as the truffle's natural moisture begins to evaporate  shortly after it is harvested.  A truffle that feels insubstantial for its size, it may have been sitting around for a while.
  • Aroma: A black truffle can exude many different and intoxicating aromas from a combination of red wine, chocolate and cheese to earthy mushrooms. If the black truffle does not have any aroma, avoid it. Truffles are highly perishable and the fragrance deteriorates with time, so  choose truffle specimens that are aromatic. Some unscrupulous merchants have been known to rub truffle oil onto old truffles to enhance or amplify aromas, or even worse disguise cheaper truffle specimens with potent truffle oil scents to garner higher prices. Stick to a reputable merchant when purchasing this valuable spore.
  • Firm: Once you have weighed the truffles in your hand and taken in the intoxicating aromas, feel around the truffle to ensure that there are no soft spots. A soft spot may indicate decay, which can also be detected by a rotting odor. Some truffles, like the one below have natural indentations or holes, which do not impact quality. However, unscrupulous vendors have been known to stuff the holes with dirt. Again, stick to a reputable merchant when purchasing a truffle.
 

Again, a natural hole in the truffle will not compromise quality, but take care to ensure that the holes are not filled with dirt so that you get the most for your money.


Most truffles are sold unwashed to  maintain quality and freshness. Some vendors may make a small indentation in the truffle with a knife, such as the one pictured above, to check for quality. The indentation reveals a dark, firm flesh with thin spidery veins, which is desirable for the Perigord.


If you find that after scrubbing and washing your Perigord truffle that there are soft spots, such as the one pictured below, which indicates that the truffle has been exposed to frost and has started to decay.


Or that the flesh is not dark with spidery veins, as pictured in the specimen that Sherry Page is holding, take the truffle back to the merchant you purchased it from to exchange for a better specimen.


Once you have washed and scrubbed the truffle, wrap it in dry paper towel and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Related Posts
Truffle Hunting in Provence
Chez Bruno - The Ultimate Truffle Dining Experience in Provence
Saint Rémy de Provence
Bistrot Découverte in Saint Rémy de Provence
Château Beaucastel Winery of Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Châteauneuf-du-Pape - One of the World's Premier Wine Region


Reputable Sources for Truffles
Gourmet Attitude
http://www.gourmetattitude.com/

Fungi Far West 
http://store.farwestfungi.com/

53 comments:

Pierce said...

I love this post. Very informative. Hope you are warm :-)

HippieMom said...

It is so interesting! The weight is an indicator of freshness!? like pomegranate!!

Fantastic post!

I nominated you for the sunshine award;-]

♥xOxO♥

Angie's Recipes said...

Thank you for writing this detailed informative post of choosing the right truffles!

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

Andrea told me you went truffle hunting when I was asking where you were at the Hill Country party. I'm so jealous. Take me with you! BTW, great post, good stuff to know!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Cool! I will come to you for advice if I ever see a truffle in real life. ;-)

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Great advice on truffles. I didn't know to check the hole for dirt. So much to learn, but it's fun. Glad you had a nice trip. Stay warm up there in the big city.

Happy Valentine's Day.
Sam

Chow and Chatter said...

oh wow they look amazing did you cook them!

and adore Natashya's comment

Bellini Valli said...

I have learned something new today:D

Astra Libris said...

So fascinating! I'm intrigued, and I learned so much from this post! Thank you!

Michelle said...

OH how fun and interesting too! Unfortunately I have never even tasted a truffle before.

Erica said...

Interesting! I've never tried one before!!! I hope you have a very happy valentines day!

Claudia said...

Oh do you know how much I want to be in a farmhouse in Provence learning how to choose a black truffle! I am beside myself. What a grand post. What a great position to be in!

sophia said...

Haha, I need to have the money to afford it first...but hopefully, one day I'll be able to use this piece of info!

Simply Mel said...

You and I both agree that Sherry is the best! Hope I can attend this truffle fest next year! Great post!

3 hungry tummies said...

Great tips! Happy new year! Gong Xi fa cai!

PFx said...

I wish I could get truffles in New Zealand. Thanks for the tips.

theUngourmet said...

Great info on the truffles! I wonder who sells them here? I'll have to save up and buy some! :D

Selba said...

Interesting... never knew about truffles before.

Happy Chinese New Year and also Happy Valentine's Day! :)

KennyT said...

Very informative, thank you!! Btw, that black truffle in your first pic is HUGE!!!

Nanny'76 said...

Cristine hello .. Thanks for visiting and Happy Valentine's Day to you too ...
anna

Trissa said...

I can only but dream of doing something like this! Wonderful informative post!! Where's the food?

Nina's Recipes said...

Happy Valentine's Day! XOXOXO

Debinhawaii said...

Fascinating post and great information to have as my truffle knowledge is a bit limited! ;-)

petite nyonya said...

Ahhh..so this is how a truffle looks like! It's not a common ingredient here. Thanks for sharing & also, Happy Lunar New Year to you too! Cheers!

Simply Life said...

wow, I would never know this! thanks for sharing!

Mari said...

First time I see this, thanks for sharing, I learned alot!

Have a wonderful day!

♥peachkins♥ said...

First time I've seen black truffle. Very informative post!

Kim said...

This was such an interesting post. I've never seen a truffle in person before so I wouldn't know what to look for. Thanks so much for all the tips and pictures.

Joanne said...

Awesome post! I feel so informed now.

I am printing this, should I ever find myself lucky enough to come across a black truffle. hey, you never know...

Cathy said...

Thanks for an excellent lesson on what to look for when one purchases truffles. I've never seen them for sale in our local farmers markets.

Elra said...

What a nice and useful info Christine, thank you so much, now I know what to look for when buying this precious ingredient!

biz319 said...

I wish I liked mushrooms! I love it in gravy - the flavor, but just can't get past the texture somehow!

The Chef In My Head said...

My gosh, aren't they just beautiful! Fantastic post, very good information, thank you!~LeslieMichele

high low said...

Great info! Happy New Year & Valentine's Day!

moretolifethanlettuce said...

very informative and interesting post! there's a place in the SF ferry building that sells truffles but i've never been brave enough to fork over the $

John Dryzga said...

I hope you smuggled some truffles home! Did you have a good trip?

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very interesting and informative! I'd love to buy one of those beauties...

Cheers,

Rosa

Velva said...

I learned a lot today from your post! Much thanks. You did bring some truffles home,yes?

Chou said...

Having never actually purchased black truffles, I feel much better prepared to do so. Thanks!

A Year on the Grill said...

I love this post...

Will probably never buy one, but i can look smart.

GREAT POST

Erica said...

Great information!!I would love one of those.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Great information, Christine - I know so little about truffles, so this is fantastic!

El said...

This is a fascinating post. I didn't know anything about truffles before. Great info- thanks!

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

What a useful post. I've only purchased fresh black truffles a handful of times so I definitely don't have the know how to pick good ones. I'm referring back to this the next time I go looking for them.

Miss Mitten said...

I've never tried a black truffle but definitely want to now! Looks great!

Tara

Sook said...

I don't think I've ever seen those before. Thanks to you, now I know how to choose a good black truffle! :)

and this blog said...

I'm taking notes, in case I really go next year =)

Saveurs et Gourmandises said...

Very interesting and informative!
Welcome in France. I hope you'll like your hollidays here.
See soon.

Katy ~ said...

I think truffles are beyond the scope of my pocketbook, but I certainly enjoyed learning about them. Thank you so much for sharing this. Loved this post.

balancejoyanddelicias said...

I've never had and seen truffle....very interesting! I hope I had the chance to choose a real one someday! :)

5 Star Foodie said...

As much as I love truffles, I certainly didn't know all of this fascinating information! Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

nancy at goodfoodmatters said...

Christine, this is enormously helpful. I hope one day to have the chance to truffle shop, and thanks to you, I have these great guidelines. Wonderful!

Diana Bauman said...

So interesting. I'm so excited to actually start learning about truffles. Now if I could only taste one ;)