Truffles are the fruiting body of a fungus and usually found at the roots of trees, searched out by truffle hunters using dogs or even pigs.
It is near impossible to cultivate most varieties of truffles on a large scale, meaning they have to be hunted in the wild, which is why they cost so much.
How many varieties of truffle?
There are several varieties of truffle, but the white truffle is the most desirable and therefore costs the most. Other varieties, however, include the summer burgundy truffle and the black truffle.
Use white truffles raw and within 10 days of harvest to ensure their unique qualities can be taken advantage of.
Many of the truffles used in the UK will come from Continental Europe – from France and Italy – however, there are areas of Britain where truffles are regularly found.
Here are 6 tips to make truffles go further:
1) Truffle-infused eggs
Eggshells are porous and so their contents can be flavoured with pungent ingredients if stored with them in an airtight container for several hours.
Keeping eggs locked up with a truffle will give them a subtle truffle flavour and fragrance, which can then be used to make any dish requiring an egg. Truffle omelette?
2) Truffle oil
An obvious choice because oils capture and lock in flavours, which can then be used in cooking or to drizzle over dishes.
Infuse some olive oil by placing a small piece of truffle in the bottle, which can be used to drizzle over dishes in place of freshly shaved truffle.
3) Dried goods
Not only do eggs and oils have the ability to take on the flavours of other ingredients, but so do the likes of rice, some pulses and polenta.
Place a truffle in a sealed jar containing either rice, polenta or a pulse. The flavour of the truffle will infuse into the contents.
Don’t keep truffles with dried goods for too long, though, as you will end up dehydrating them.
4) Truffle butter
Finely grate truffle into butter and cream before rolling in cling film to create a cylinder and refrigerating overnight.
It can then be sliced into discs to be placed on hot food as and when required.
5) Truffle-infused honey
Not the first thing to come to mind, but many chefs are now taking advantage of the truffle’s unique fragrance by steeping them in honey.
6) Truffle salt
Kill two birds with one stone by finely grating truffle into sea salt for a sophisticated seasoning, which can be used to punch up dishes before service.
Salt’s natural preservative qualities will draw any moisture from grated truffle, so will last for a long time if kept in a cool dark place.