The black winter truffle, also known as Tuber melanosporum
The black winter truffle is one of the most valuable and expensive mushrooms in the world. Known scientifically as Tuber melanosporum, it grows during the winter months and is mostly found in the Mediterranean regions of Europe such as France, Italy and Spain, but can also be found in other parts of the world such as North America, Australia and New Zealand.
The black winter truffle has an irregular shape and a wrinkled, warty surface. Its internal pulp is intensely black and has a strong and characteristic aroma, which makes it highly appreciated in the kitchen. In Italy, the black winter truffle is often called "precious truffle" and represents an important gastronomic excellence.
The black winter truffle is traditionally harvested with the help of trained dogs which, thanks to their highly developed sense of smell, are able to identify the truffle under the ground. This harvesting method, which dates back centuries, is still used today in most production areas. However, in some regions, pigs are also used for harvesting, as they have an equally developed sense of smell and a great passion for truffles, but due to their tendency to eat truffles, their adoption has gradually been abandoned.
The black winter truffle is mainly used in the kitchen to flavor meat, pasta, rice and egg dishes. Thanks to its intense flavor, it can be used in small quantities to give dishes a decisive and characteristic aroma. Some examples of dishes in which the black winter truffle is the protagonist are pasta with truffles, risotto with truffles, eggs in cocotte with truffles and truffled steak. Furthermore, it is also possible to use it as a condiment for cheeses and cured meats.
The black winter truffle is a high quality product and, consequently, it is very expensive. Its price varies according to the quantity and quality of the truffle, the area of origin and the season. In general, high quality truffles that are harvested early in the season are the most expensive.
The black winter truffle harvest has historically been associated with poverty and marginalization, as it was done by farmers looking to supplement their income collected over the course of the season. However, in recent years, the truffle market has grown significantly, prompting more and more people to approach truffle harvesting as a professional activity. This has led to an increase in the demand and price of truffles, but it has also led to problems such as illegal harvesting, counterfeiting and the destruction of natural habitats.
The cost of the black winter truffle can vary considerably according to its quality, origin, seasonality and market demand. In general, the price of the black winter truffle is quite high, as it is a product of great value and difficult to find.
During the black winter truffle season, which runs from December to March, the price of the black winter truffle can fluctuate between 800 and 1,500 euros per kilo, depending on the quality. However, in times of great demand, the price can rise significantly, even exceeding 3,000 euros per kilo.
It is important to note that the cost of the black winter truffle can also vary according to the form in which it is sold. Indeed, black winter truffles are usually sold fresh, but can also be found dried, frozen or canned. Obviously, the cost of fresh winter black truffles is much higher than for other forms of conservation.
In any case, the black winter truffle is considered a product of great value and luxury, the cost of which can represent a barrier for many consumers. However, there are also cheaper alternatives that use black winter truffles in limited quantities or in combination with other ingredients, such as truffle-based products such as oil, salt and truffle sauce.