Recently I was offered two Alba truffles, both illustrated fumes of truffle fragrance those pheromones sifting up into the nostrils why are we so attracted to truffles. Truffles are sold and priced by size – so the larger there the more expensive and if you buy small size truffles 10-15g they are certainly much less expensive but that doesn’t mean that they’ll be less tasty. They can be excellent in taste there is no guarantee that size brings better flavour, but it can help.
“modern science believes truffles are so successful as an aphrodisiac”
But right now the ground is quite dry so the truffles are in more risky – in some cases good and if they are kept and stored properly, the aromas can be magnanimous. However, even though aromas are key to taste they may not always be in line with the taste. The season is really at the start, and as we move along until November, we will see this season with larger and better truffles.
The two truffles above are slightly different. The truffle on (top) has a different shape and you can see that it has had some bioactivity with worms, which is not a bad thing. The second truffle is much more characteristic of Alba, you see it has a very nice shape and is bulbous and smooth. This is a good characteristic for any Piedmontese truffle and is indicative of condition.
As seen below, one had a better appearance bulbous shape although both we excellent and perhaps the fact the second truffle was broader in shape, the area of shaving gave it more umph at first.
“Androstenol is one of a family of steroids formed as a natural by-product of testosterone, the so-called male hormone. It’s responsible for the slightly musky smell that men naturally have, and is one of the components of truffles”
Below you see the same two two truffles after being washed; I was offered both at the same time and I purchased the two and they were 100% local. Step one, in checking the truffle it must have what I call ‘positive aromas’ – not too woody and in a selecting any white truffle smell is a priority. However, the way a person perceives smells comes down to her particular arrangement of amino acids. A difference of a single amino acid on one gene can cause that person to experience a smell differently than someone with another amino acid. Around 400 genes code for smell, and on those hundreds of genes, there are around 900,000 potential variations.
“no two people experience scent in exactly the same way”
Antica Torre – Tartufo con Fassona
You can easily see the face of this truffle is large in comparison to the other truffle, due to the shape, and consequently gives more flavour due to the fact that there’s more surface area cut.
Many of the truffles I saw seemed as if they were unripe, and the aroma was slightly musty. Truffles live underground in the earth and under or near to trees. If the earth possesses a good moist environmen and characteristics, they will impart them to the truffle – for example under an oak tree we often see redness in some truffles due to their environment.
“There are a lot of tricks used by people selling truffles, and the less you know the more you will be taking advantage of – it’s that simple”
So, the physical aspects are very important, but when you put a truffle in your hand, it’s not only a matter of smelling the truffle (which is critical) but make sure that it has the physical beauty (appearance) combined with the expected truffle aroma, and not some kind of like dirty laundry basket.
“The truffle shouldn’t be too wet, too dirty (stuffed with dirt in the crevasses) or too dry in the touch and feel between your fingers”