Truffle Connoisseurs Have Merely a Week to Enjoy France’s Celebrated Périgord Black Truffles

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The season for France’s Périgord black truffles is coming to an end, reports Mirepoix USA, a leading online source for top quality fresh truffle mushrooms. Fresh black truffles will be available in US markets for only one to two more weeks.

Truffle Recipes: Steamed Lobster with Black Truffle Butter made with Fresh Truffles

Steamed Lobster with Black Truffle Butter

Mirepoix USA’s founder stated, “Choosing the right ingredients to pair with truffles is important. Always keep the truffle as the center of attention, allowing it’s powerful yet subtle flavor to shine”.

Generally available from late November through mid March, Périgord black truffles (Tuber melanosporum) are the most highly desired of all the French truffles. Fresh black truffles from Périgord are prized by chefs and epicures throughout the world for their incomparable flavor and aroma. Though the first harvest of black truffles is usually in late November, truffles reach their pinnacle of fragrance and flavor in January and February. March produces good quality mature specimens; however, availability becomes increasingly limited as each week passes. Production dwindles to almost nothing towards the end of March forcing most importers to conclude sending new shipments to the US.

Like other truffle varieties, the Périgord black truffle grows beneath the surface of the soil among the root systems of specific types of trees and develops a symbiotic relationship with those trees, which primarily consist of oak, but also beech, hazelnut, chestnut, birch and poplar. Within the last 100 years production of these almost incomparable delicacies has significantly diminished from previous levels, but demand among discerning epicures remains strong.

According to Mirepoix USA founder, Laurel Pine, who has been cooking with truffles for almost a decade, Périgord truffles are best when cooked because their wonderful flavor is released and intensified by heat. Mirepoix USA’s founder stated, “Choosing the right ingredients to pair with truffles is important. Always keep the truffle as the center of attention, allowing it’s powerful yet subtle flavor to shine”.

Pine suggests inserting thin slices of raw black truffle beneath the skin of uncooked fowl such as chicken, pheasant or Cornish game hen before the bird is roasted. Slices of black truffle can be wrapped around firm-bodied fish such as monkfish, added to a warm butter sauce and spooned over steamed lobster. To achieve a classic combination, Pine recommends serving Périgord truffles with a fine cut of meat such as Wagyu beef filet mignon or game such as boar, elk or venison. Black truffle can be grated or shaved into rich sauces made with Cognac or wine to lend them that rich truffle flavor. According to Pine, Black truffle and rich, creamy foie gras is one of the ultimate culinary pairings.

Black truffle connoisseurs do have options off-season. Truffle experts agree, flash frozen black truffles are the best alternative to fresh truffles, and are particularly good when cooked with butter, cream or meats high in fat. Preserved black truffles are suitable for some preparations, though the flavor and aroma is far from that of fresh truffles. Pure truffle oil, truffle butter, and truffle salt offer additional alternatives for those who want to impart black truffle flavor to their dishes off-season.

Australian truffles are an excellent option for those seeking fresh truffles when France’s truffles are out of season. Since Australia’s seasons are opposite of the Northern hemisphere, Australian grown mature black truffles are available from May – August. According to AFFG, Australian Good Food and Travel Guide, black truffles grown in Australia “will normally reach their full size around March and April if conditions are optimal. Then between June and September, as the truffles mature, they will emit the powerful aroma that send both truffle hunting dogs and gastronomes alike into a heavenly spin.”

For black truffle purists, who are loyal only to authentic Périgord truffles from France, there is merely a week or possibly two weeks left to purchase the real thing. December 2013 will bring a new season, giving truffle connoisseurs another three and a half months to enjoy one of nature’s most precious and unique foods.

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