Truffles are one the most highly prized of cooking ingredients and, it should come as no surprise, are one of the costliest. They are particularly associated with the cuisines of Italy and France, each of which produces some of the best varieties, but they are also favored in Greece, Spain and the Middle East. There are actually many different species but, generally, you hear them of them as either being ‘White Truffles’ (chiefly Italian) or ‘Black Truffles’ (from the Perigord region in France). In point of fact, though, one of the more common, and thus cheaper, varieties is the ‘Summer Truffle’, which is the type you see pictured above. These are also sometimes referred to as ‘Summer Black Truffles’ and, by appearance at least, can be loosely be classed as a Black Truffle, even though they are held in lesser esteem than the Perigord type.
Unless you happen to live near to a harvesting region, obtaining fresh truffles is very difficult, not to mention highly expensive, as they do not keep well without being frozen, dried, or otherwise preserved. Most people, in fact, will generally only encounter truffles in the form of Truffle Oil (which is often actually synthetic), or perhaps in a processed condiment of some sort. The one way in which whole, real truffles are made available to the average kitchen is in brine or oil preserves. The two tiny ones I purchased for this post are Italian brine preserves and they cost $20.00 in a specialty market in Ottawa. The quality of the preserved sort is noticeably less than fresh, it must be said, but this is still a worthwhile tradeoff for not having access to the fresh delicacy in the first place… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Preserved Black Truffles”