Black truffle (Tuber melanosporum)

Black truffle in clay bowl

tuber melanosporum It may not be a very familiar term for many, but if we mention the most popular term for this delicacy that represents the black truffleSurely delicious flavors and aromas come to your taste memory if you have had the pleasure of tasting them and if not, the term will surely be more familiar to you.

The truth is that black truffles are surrounded by a certain mystery This may be linked to the difficulty of obtaining them, due to the price that for many is usually high and also due to their own peculiarities such as flavor and aroma.

Characteristics of the black truffle

Black truffle cut in half

Truffles belong to the Tuberaceae family, genus Tuber and it differs from mushrooms because its spores are found in the inner part of the asci. These are mushrooms that grow underground or hypogea and the black one in particular is one of the most appreciated gastronomically speaking.

It has the shape of a slightly rounded tuber, measures between 3 and 6 centimeters and weighs at most 200 grams. The tuber melanosporum comes from varied colors according to the season of the yearThis is how in spring the color is between red and purple while in size it is not bigger than a hazelnut, by summer it acquires a dark brown color and is a little larger.

The maturation of this fungus begins in late autumn and by then it acquires an almost black brown tone and rust-like reddish yellow spots and they change until they are completely black. The skin is a bit rough in texture due to the trunk - pyramidal warts that cover the entire surface, which divides the nose into 4 or 6 polygonal faces.

If we talk about the meat or better known as the gleba, this is of firm consistency when it is still young, its color is whitish, but this as it matures it first turns grayish and finally its color turns purplish black, which indicates that it is already ripe.

Habitat of tuber melanosporum

It develops together with a host tree and prefers well-drained soilsTherefore, the clay, loose and shallow ones are perfect. The mycelium of the fungus binds to the host tree in a symbiotic way to feed on it.

The black truffle, just like the white truffleIt grows spontaneously in Italy, Portugal, France, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Spain, Germany, Hungary and Switzerland, but by virtue of its commercial value it is also cultivated in Spain, Italy, Morocco and others.

Black truffle development process

When the spore is released by the ascus, the truffle begins its development process, the spore germinates giving way to the formation of the mycelium of the fungus which manifests itself in the form of very fine filaments arranged in the soil. These join with the rows of other spores and form the so-called mycorrhiza, which is the organ which allows the exchange between soil, fungus and host tree.

Black truffle or Tuber melanosporum

Mycorrhiza covers the roots in their active zone and it multiplies by a good part of them at the same time that the mycelium develops in the soil. A kind of burn manifests itself on the surface of this area and causes the mycorrhizae to become larger. If later the suitable conditions are given, the fruiting of the truffle or production of the tuber melanosporum will take place.

Gastronomic value of the black truffle

Really the black winter truffle (among the rest of truffle plants) is the one that has a high value for gastronomy, starting with its intense perfume which is highly appreciated in haute cuisine. The unattractive appearance of the black truffle is the least of it since the flavor and aroma far exceed this detail, since they are unique in this type of mushroom, making it the most appreciated of all edible mushrooms.

This truffle is used mainly as a condiment, in fact the technique of adding it to these when cooking is called "truffle". Are hard to come by and therefore they are priced at high prices that are well worth it for the results obtained in the meals.

The collection of truffles requires certain knowledge that goes beyond recognizing the precious fungus, to begin it is necessary to make special utensils as are truffle knives. These treasures lie buried under the shelter of hazelnuts, oaks and truffle oaks to which it is linked. To reach them, a properly trained dog is needed, although pigs are also used for this purpose.

Your experience will lead you to these divine mushrooms totally deformed, rough and black in color buried in the ground, especially those paved. When the truffle dog marks it, it is when you dig around it using the special knife for it and whose blade is triangular, until you extract it.

After extracting it, you proceed to cover the space carefully with the same soil, if possible add some organic matter around it. The perfect season to collect them is winter since it is when they reach their maturity and aromatic and flavor potential.

The symbiosis of this hypogeal fungus with the soil and the host tree of a mycorrhizal character causes a very interesting teamwork to take place where the truffles contribute minerals to the roots of the tree while feeding on them.

What do they call burnt truffles?

person carrying plate of black truffles

For favorable conditions to exist and mycorrhizal association to occur, there must be the presence of gall oaks, oaks y kermes coupled with limestone terrain and certain weather conditions. The conjunction of all these elements generates a root morphological variation, which in turn makes the phytotoxic effect in a good part of the perennial and annual herb that exists in the environment of the host, right in the area where the black truffles are harvested.

It is this herbicidal effect that is known as truffle burn and it seems to be part of a kind of strategy of the tuber melanosporum, by means of which it prevents other plants from competing with it.

Until a few years ago the truffle occurred naturally only in a few provinces of Spain, however much that has changed, since there are plantations in many provinces and most of those currently marketed come from Spain.

The truth is that between the wild black truffle and the cultivation there is very little difference, as long as the development conditions of the truffle plantation have been given in the right way. If you want to get the tuber melanosporum true and its correct ripening point, we recommend that you go to stores specialized in this type of mushroom.


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