Périgord Truffles -Everything You Need To Know

Curious about fresh Périgord truffles? Prized for their aroma and luxurious flavour there is nothing quite like them.

Winter truffle season is in full swing in the south of France from November to March. This is when the most intensely flavoured and fragrant of all truffles are harvested. Earthy, musky, oaky, sweet and nutty, these umami gems are superior to summer truffles. And their intense flavour gives you more bang for your buck.

Once a year, typically early March, Market Fresh Guelph exclusively offers Périgord Truffles for preorder. 

Here are some ways to best enjoy them and answers to the most commonly asked questions to help you get the most out of this lavishly appointed seasonal fungi.

What are truffles?

Truffles are a product of terroir, a fungus and a tree. More precisely, they are a
subterranean fungi grown in calcareous soils near the roots of broadleaved trees like hazelnut and oak. Simply put, they are edible fungi that grow underground.

What do truffles taste like?

A fresh truffle has a deep, rich and complex flavour profile that many describe as
quintessentially umami. Earthy, musky, oaky, nutty and slightly sweet, truffles have a slight garlicky flavour with stinging savoury notes similar to black olives.

How do you eat truffles?

Truffles contains glutamic acid, a flavour enhancer, so they make food taste better. They are best eaten raw or warmed because this brings outs their delicious truffle flavour while high heat can take it away. When stored with a high fat content like eggs, dairy, nuts and chocolate the aroma is taken up by the fats enhancing their flavour.

Shave or grate truffles on top of cooked beef, pork, roast chicken, and game meats like wild boar and venison, cooked pasta, scrambled eggs or pizza. Add truffles into your favourite risotto, creamy pasta dish or mashed potatoes. Amplify aioli or olive oil with truffles to make a great dipping sauce or condiment. Dishes with simple flavours will allow the truffle’s unique and exquisite taste to truly shine.

Are truffles mushrooms?

No, but they are related. Truffles and mushrooms are both in the fungi family however they are not the same species. Mushrooms grow above the ground while truffles grow underneath the ground making them part of the tuberaceae family.

Where do Périgord truffles come from?

Périgord Truffles are from the Périgord Noir region in the south of France.

What makes Périgord black truffles so special?

The Périgord black truffle, known to gastronomes as the black diamond, is the most sought-after truffle. It is the most fragrant of all truffles with a unique and powerful earthy aroma reminiscent of damp undergrowth, humus and mushrooms yet the taste is refined.

When is Périgord truffle season?

Périgord truffle season runs between mid-November to mid-March. As with all naturally grown seasonal produce Mother Nature decides the exact timing each year.

Do truffles taste like garlic?

Truffles do have a slight garlicky flavour like shallots but the flavour is more nuanced and subtle so it doesn’t tend to overwhelm other ingredients.

What does truffle oil taste like?

Truffle oil has a strong flavour that is earthy, pungent and mushroomy.

Why are truffles so expensive?

Truffles are notoriously difficult to grow. They require specific habitats and take years to cultivate. New truffles that grow on tree roots can take up to 20 years to sprout before they’re ready for harvesting. In addition, they are difficult to harvest, highly seasonal and have a short shelf life.

What is truffle hunting? Is that a real thing?

Yes, it’s a real thing. Truffles grow in the wild, underground and they can be difficult to find, making it a hunt. Truffle hunting is the process of identifying areas where the truffle plant grows. Hunters use a special spade that allows them to extract the truffles without disturbing the soil conditions.

What are truffle pigs?

Female pigs have been traditionally used to hunt truffles because they have an excellent sense of smell and are beckoned to the truffle, as they contain androstenol, a sex hormone found in the saliva of male pigs. The problem is that pigs like to eat truffles.

Are dogs used to hunt truffles?

Trained dogs are now commonly used to hunt truffles because they can find truffles just as well as pigs, have more stamina, are less disruptive to the environment - and they are less likely to eat the truffles!

Cleaning Tips

Truffles should be cleaned before use by brushing or wiping the surface rather than rinsing
under water as the moisture will cause the fungus to rot.

Storage Tips

The aroma and flavour of fresh truffles will halve in about 5 days, however if stored carefully they will keep for 1-2 weeks. If you wait longer than that to use them they may rot or dry-out because they are typically more than 70% water. They are best stored in the refrigerator in a large airtight container to prevent the aroma from contaminating other ingredients in the

Fresh truffles can be frozen, however they won’t be as good. To freeze them simply place the truffles in a zip-lock or resealable bag, squeeze the air out and seal the bag. Freeze separately and once fully frozen, consolidate into one bag.