Périgord TruffleTuber Melanosporum

Périgord truffle

The correct botanical denomination of the "Périgord Truffle" is Tuber Melanosporum Vit.. It is also known by the name of "black truffle" or "french black truffle". However, those names are not appropriate as the name "black truffle" is often used in combination with other truffles as well and therefore highly misleading. The fruiting body of the Périgord truffle grows between April and June reaching maturity between November and February. The black-brown skin (called "Pyridium") consists of many small pyramidal cusps - around 1mm high. During maturation the color of the skin changes from red-brown to black once it is fully mature. Their flesh (around September) is white, then gray and becomes anthracite starting from mid November. Later in the season, it even becomes slightly blue. The flesh is permeated by characteristic white veins which turn brown with age. These veins belong to the mycelium.

Périgord truffle spores microscope
Spores of a Périgord truffle

The full maturity is reached around mid december. The harvest is done until march. A real mature Périgord truffle as big as a nut might have such a intense aroma, that it can be smelled throughout the apartment. The odor might still be discernable days later. But it is important to keep the truffles in a refrigerator at all times in order to avoid to be drying-out and therefore loosing its aroma.

A Périgord truffle can be found in many different sizes - not bigger than a pea to the size of a pineapple reaching a weight of more than 500gr. In the department of Dordogne in France, a truffle of 1 kg has been found. In Italy, the french black truffle can be found in the regions of Umbria, Marche, Toscana, Liguria, Tentino, Venetia and Piemont. It is also harvested in Croatia.

In Spain it can be found in natural truffle groves in the region between Taragona, Madrin an Valencia. Also to the west of Barcelona and in the region of Soria. Even in the basque country truffle groves have been created - some reaching a size of 600 ha.

But according to french countrymen, only truffles from Périgord and the Provence have the best quality and aroma.

France consumes around 100 to 150 tonnes of Périgord-Truffles per year. Only 50-80 tonnes are harvested in France, the rest imported from Italy, Spain or Croatia.

Characteristic
Description
Appearance
Body normally 2 - 8 cm wide, round, sometimes with unregular bumps. Skin first red, then black-brown becoming black at maturity. Skin has many small pyramidal cusps. The flesh ist first white, later light gray becoming anthracite to deep black at maturity. It's leavened by white, pink-colored or light brown veins - depending of the soil and the host tree.
Aroma
Very aromatic odor which varies depending of its origin - the soil, temperate zone and host plant. It is difficult to describe the aroma of a Périgord truffle, as it changes from truffle to truffle. Further, there is no other known odor in order to describe it easily.
Taste
When used as ingredient for cooked meals, it provides a very unique taste to the dish. It can also be used fresh in two ways: Either as very thin slices - ideal to please the eye as the structure of the truffle is then best presented. Or - to create a very intense taste rasped over the dish - for instance noodles. When using truffles, it is important to use only other ingredients that are not too dominant.
Spores
Elliptical with short, thick and rigid brown spikes. In average around 3 to 4 spores per Ascus(spore-tube) 27-55 x 20-33 µm.

Confusion with:
Spores in a mesh: Summer-Truffle (Tuber aestivum)
Spores prickly: Musky Truffle (Tuber brumale)
Occurence
Southern France / Périgord, Spain, Italy, Kroatia. In deciduous woodlands and less frequently in coniferous woodlands. Below of oak trees, hasel bushs and sometimes other trees like walnut. In chalky soil.

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