Christmas is almost upon us. The time for wild mushrooms and truffles has arrived too. At Funghi Funghi in Belgium, it is, therefore, high season again. "We currently have different truffle varieties in our range. These include the well-known White truffle and the black Autumn truffle. But that is only the start," says Funghi Funghi's Leon. "There is a lot of confusion about 'black truffles'."
"At this time of the year, there are about three different kinds of black truffles on the market. Since they are all black, they look similar. But, when it comes to intensity, taste, and smell, they differ tremendously. In the trade sector and gastronomical world, there is only one that is formally known as the 'black truffles'. This is the 'Black' or 'Périgord truffle”.
On the left is the Périgord, on the right, the Autumn truffle.
“To begin with, we have the black 'Autumn truffle', the Tuber Unicatum. It is also known as the ‘Burgundy truffle'. These reach their peak in November. Then, there is the black "Winter truffle', or Tuber Brumale. These are available in December. Their high season is in February. Lastly, we have the king among the truffles - the Tuber Melanosporum or 'Black' or 'Périgord truffle’. These are popular during the Christmas period. But, they are available from November to March," explains Leon.
"The Périgord truffle is then also the nicest looking, most expensive truffle on the market. This is where things often go awry. Sometimes the cheaper Autumn or Winter truffles are confused with, the more expensive, more exclusive Périgord truffle. People then think they got a 'good deal'. To get some form of guarantee, we advise people always to use the truffles' Latin names. But even then, you need the necessary experience and knowledge. Buyers must be able to judge the type and quality of the truffles."
A Winter truffle.
Truffles are relatively expensive. Despite this, their popularity keeps growing. "This is partly due to the cheaper varieties that are on the market. With this product, the price often remains the determining factor. The black 'Summer truffle’ - Tuber Aestivum - is the cheapest and most sold. White truffles - Tuber Magnatum and black Périgord truffles are very exclusive. They, therefore, go to the top gastronomical establishments," continues Van Basten. “Truffles are like gold, diamonds, and caviar. It is a luxury item. But you have to check it out and know who you are buying from."