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Truffle Types

Tuber is regarded as the quintessential truffle genus because many species have socio-economic importance and esteemed culinary attributes. This classification of global truffle species includes all the truffles of culinary importance.

 

• Aestivum clade (I) black truffles

summer black truffle (Tuber aestivum 1827)
scorzone black truffle (T. aestivum var uncinatum 1998)
autumn black truffle (Tuber mesentericum 1831)

 

• Rufum clade (II-A3) red truffles

cinnamon truffle (Tuber rufum 1788)
shiny truffle (Tuber nitidum 1831)
pecan truffle (Tuber lyonii 1903)

 

• Spinoreticulum clade (II-A4) brown truffle

– only one known species of no economic or culinary importance.

• Macrosporum clade (III-A) black truffles

smooth black truffle (Tuber macrosporum 1831)

 

• Gibbosum clade (III-B1) white truffles

Oregon-spring white truffle (Tuber gibbosum 1899)
Oregon-autumn white truffle (Tuber oregonense 2010)

Europe appears to have the most phylogenetic diversity of Tuber, particularly represented by basal lineages, suggesting that this continent may be the point of origin for the genus. However Tuber diversity in Asia is still not well known and the discovery and inclusion of new species in future analyses could change inferences about the origin and diversification of Tuber. Most clades consist of a mix of both European and North American species, except the basal Aestivum (I) clade in Europe and the Gibbosum (III-B1) clade in North America. The Puberulum (III-B2) clade includes the most species and the Rufum (II-B1) clade the second most, although they comprise mainly non-commercial species and only very few have culinary value.

• The Aestivum (I), Excavatum (II-A1) and Magnatum (II-A2) clades are less diversified and located only in Europe or North Africa.

• The Rufum (II-B1), Melanosporum (II-B), Macrosporum (III-A) and Puberulum (III-B2) clades are more diversified in species and geographical distribution, occurring in both Eurasia and North America.

• The Gibbosum (III-B1) and Spinoreticulum (II-A4) clades are located only in North America.

 

The phylo-geography of Tuber suggests that it evolved from a mushroom ancestor in close association with angiosperm (broadleaf) hosts, and subsequent multiple transitions to gymnosperm (conifer) hosts have all appeared to shape the evolutionary history of the genus. The most basal truffle lineages form mycorrhiza predominantly with angiosperm host trees, while derived forms are more commonly associated with gymnosperm host trees.

• The Aestivum (I), Spinoreticulum (II-A4), Melanosporum (II-B) and Macrosporum (III-A) clades of black truffles typically associate with angiosperm hosts but occasionally form associations with gymnosperm hosts.

• The Excavatum (II-A1), Magnatum (II-A2) and Rufum (II-B1) clades of white and red truffles show a strong preference towards angiosperm hosts, but may be capable of forming associations with gymnosperm hosts.

• The Gibbosum (III-B1) clade of white truffles appears to be the only lineage with strong preference for gymnosperm hosts in nature.

• The Puberulum (III-B2) clade of white truffles appears to associate with either angiosperm or gymnosperm hosts, and in some cases with both.

 

Truffle species are characterized by two major gross morphological features that help to distinguish them: (1) the texture of the peridium (skin) which may be pale beige and relatively smooth for white truffles, bear dark large warts for black truffles, or have pinkish-red rough, scaly minute warts for red truffles; and (2) a pattern of sterile and fertile veins filling the gleba (flesh), which darken as the fertile tissue matures and vary in colour. Morphological variation in truffle sporocarps are more readily observed, but microscopic characters of the spores are also necessary for distinguishing the species. Truffles vary in size along a continuum from very small to very large; they show similar morphological characteristics but that have distinct organoleptic (smell and taste) and economic values.

Among the approximately 100 known species of truffles, 10 species and varieties from Europe have the most important culinary and economic value, plus 2 from China, 2 from North Africa and 3 from North America of lesser value, totalling 17 species and varieties that are harvested and sold commercially. The European species are sold globally and the Chinese and North African species are exported to Europe, but North American species are only sold locally within the US, and Canada. Five more species from Europe have minor value but are not sold commercially. These 22 species are used in the preparation of food.

 


 

GROUP I (Aestivum Clade) Europe and Asia

– black truffles with dark, large pyramidal warts and white to brown alveolate-reticulate spores; this group is the most morphologically diverse.

 

This basal clade contains the most widespread and common truffles, occurring throughout Europe and has also been found in China, extending the known range across Eurasia. They have the most morphological variation and includes species with large pyramidal warts. Tuber aestivum was reported in Huidong County, Sichuan province in south-eastern China in 2005. It matures in summer or early autumn in Europe but in late autumn or winter in China.

Due to their abundance, they are very popular in many dishes. Two species and a variety of one of them have culinary value. Tuber aestivum and Tuber mesentericum have a very wide distribution across most of Europe. A variety, Tuber aestivum var uncinatum, was formerly thought to be a separate species (Tuber uncinatum 1892). It tends to occur in the southern part of Tuber aestivum's range and is harvested as an autumn truffle, having a finer flavour than Tuber aestivum. Tuber mesentericum has evolved different from Tuber aestivum; within this group, it has a distinct basal cavity.

 


summer black truffle (Tuber aestivum (Wulfen) Spreng. 1827)

summer black truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber nigrum Allioni 1785, Tuber culinare var. aestivum Corda 1854

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 36°N to 58°N; common and widely distributed in Europe from Iberia north to Scandinavia (including the British Isles) and east to Russia, extending outside of Europe from North Africa to Turkey.

HABITAT: from 400-800m up to 1400-1600m elevation; can tolerate a variety of soils, but prefers calcareous soils, drained and stony, and rich with fine and rough constituents and avoiding sodden soil, in broad-leaf woods or glades and in mixed conifer forests, along cultivated fields and bush hedges, always in sunny areas.

HOSTS: pedunculate oak (Quercus robur), sessile oak (Quercus sessilifolia), durmast oak (Quercus petraea), holm oak (Quercus ilex), downy oak (Quercus pubescens) and Turkey oak (Quercus cerris); European beech (Fagus sylvatica); silver birch (Betula pendula); common hazel (Corylus avellana), common hazel (Corylus avellana), Turkish hazel (Corylus colurna), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia); white willow (Salix alba), black poplar (Populus nigra) and large-leaved linden (Tilia platyphyllos); forest pine (Pinus sylvestris), black pine (Pinus nigra), stone pine (Pinus pinea), Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) and pine (Pinus brutia); European spruce (Picea abies) and European larch (Larix decidua); with Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica) in North Africa.

MATURATION PERIOD: summer (Jun to Aug)

HARVESTING SEASON: from late spring (early May) to early autumn (early Sep); the peak season is between Jul and Aug, but when moisture conditions are favourable after the season is over, they can be available in lesser quantities until early winter (early Dec) before the onset of frost. Usually harvesting of the summer black is stopped in early Sep before commencement of harvesting of the scorzone black to avoid mixing the two, particularly in France.

SIZE: usually small 2-4 cm (20-80g), sometimes large 8-10 cm (320-400g)

SHAPE: quite compact, globular or sub-globose (almost rounded), sometimes with a slight basal cavity that is not very pronounced.

OUTER SKIN: covered with large 4-6 sided, pyramidal warts (4-10mm wide), very broad at the base, often depressed at the apex, with raised radial ridges, vertically fissured with small longitudinal cracks and fine transverse striations; colour is brownish-black to deep bluish-black.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm; whitish when young becoming light yellowish-brown to dark brownish-ochre, sometimes stained bright reddish in some areas at maturity; marbled with numerous branching, winding whitish veins, some thin and others thick, pronged and variously reconnecting.

FLAVOUR: initial sweet notes are medium fruity apricot butanol (30%), strong ethereal sweet acetone (20%), strong creamy sweet butanone (14%), strong ethereal fruity propanol (9%) and strong malty-nutty almond pentanal (7%); main savoury notes are earthy asparagus, seaweed methyl thiomethane (10%), with no modifying musky phenolic ethers.

40% alcohols (mostly butanol)
35% ketones (mostly acetone)
8% aldehydes

trace ethers
10% sulphides (mostly methyl thiomethane)

Aroma intensity is medium. The flavour of summer black truffle has a predominantly strong creamy-fruity apricot, malty-nutty aroma with a moderate savoury earthy quality, without any musky notes. It is delicate and pleasant, like roasted malt and slightly seaweed, fuller flavoured than the scorzone black, without the smoky note of the autumn black. Young specimens smell like peanuts, becoming woody-nuttier as they mature. The flavour is enhanced when stored in an enclosed container.


scorzone black truffle
(Tuber aestivum var uncinatum (Chatin) I.R. Hall, P.K. Buchanan, Y. Wang & Cole 1998)

scorzone black truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber uncinatum Chatin 1892, Tuber blotii var. uncinatum (Chatin) Bon 1987

LOCAL NAMES: 'truffe noire du Bourgogne' (Burgundy black truffle) in France, 'tartufo nero di Fragno' (Fragno black truffle) in Italy

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 36°N to 48°N; southern range of the summer truffle, in the east of France from Bourgogne up to Alsace and in northern Italy in Emilia-Romagna, also extending into North Africa.

HABITAT: prefers mixed forest, more or less sparse, in partially or totally shaded areas and avoiding areas with exposure to bright sunlight; often found under leaves or among the top layers of decomposed litter. It always prefers shady places in contrast to the summer black's preference for sunny places.

HOSTS: pedunculate oak (Quercus robur), downy oak (Quercus pubescens), durmast oak (Quercus petraea), sessile oak (Quercus sessilifolia) and holm oak (Quercus ilex); European beech (Fagus sylvatica); common hazel (Corylus avellana), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia); black pine (Pinus nigra), European larch (Larix decidua); and with greek fir (Abies cephalonica) in Greece.

MATURATION PERIOD: autumn (Sep to Nov)

HARVESTING SEASON: from early autumn (mid-Sep) to early winter (mid-Dec); in good years harvest may extend to late winter (mid-Feb); overlap of harvesting periods between summer truffle and scorzone truffle are avoided, particularly in France.

SIZE: usually small 2-4 cm (20-80g), rarely large 8-10 cm (320-400g)

SHAPE: globular or sub-globose (nearly rounded), sometimes with a deep basal cavity, and similar to the autumn black, will produce a kidney-shape when cut in cross-section.

OUTER SKIN: covered with small 4-6 sided pyramidal warts (2-8mm), flattened, without pit at the base, vertically fissured, sometimes with transversal striations, thick and tiny but with sharp edges; colour is very dark brownish-black to bluish-black.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm; whitish when young becoming light yellowish-gray to dark brownish-gray at maturity; marbled with numerous, branching, winding whitish veins, thin and convoluted.

FLAVOUR: initial sweet notes are strong creamy sweet butanone (50%), medium fruity apricot butanol (35%) and strong sharp fruity methyl propanol (4%); main savoury notes are weak earthy asparagus, seaweed methyl thiomethane (1.5%), with no modifying phenolic ethers.

40% alcohols (mostly butanol)
50% ketones (mostly butanone)
5% aldehydes

trace ethers
2% sulphides (mostly methyl thiomethane)

Aroma intensity is medium, but stronger than the summer black, more pleasant and different. The flavour of scorzone black truffle has a predominant strong creamy fruity sweet aroma with a weak savoury earthy quality, without any musky notes. It has a less distinctive but more pronounced and lighter flavour than the summer black, and without the smoky note of the autumn black. It is noted and appreciated especially for its rich, fine creamy-corn aroma, and nutty taste.


autumn black truffle (Tuber mesentericum Vittad. 1831)

autumn black truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber bituminatum Berk. & Broome 1851, Tuber culinare var. mesentericum (Vittad.) Zobel 1854, Tuber aestivum var. mesentericum (Vittad.) E. Fisch. 1896

LOCAL NAMES: 'truffe noire du Lorraine' (Lorraine black truffle) in France, 'tartufo nero di Bagnoli' (Bagnoli black truffle) in Italy

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 40°N to 52°N; widespread in Europe and distributed in a more restricted but similar range to the summer truffle, more abundant in north-eastern France and southern Italy, especially Campania region.

HABITAT: up to 1000-1450m elevation; in loose dark rich calcareous soil and limestone rich in humus, in north-facing hilly slopes of broad-leaf and conifer forests, close to eroded places on mounds and not in depressions or ditches, usually 5-10cm deep.

HOSTS: downy oak (Quercus pubescens) and oak (Quercus cerris); sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), and European beech (Fagus sylvatica); common hazel (Corylus avellana), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia); forest pine (Pinus sylvestris), black pine (Pinus nigra) and stone pine (Pinus pinea).

MATURATION PERIOD: autumn (Sep to Nov)

HARVESTING SEASON: from early autumn (early Sep) to mid-winter (late Jan); season is similar to that of scorzone truffle, but extends slightly longer into the next year.

SIZE: usually small 2-4 cm (20-80g), sometimes medium to large 5-8 cm (125-320g)

SHAPE: globular or sub-globose (nearly rounded) with a conspicuously wide and deep basal cavity, producing a kidney-shape when cut in cross-section.

OUTER SKIN: covered with small 4-6 sided, often 5 sided, pyramidal warts (2-6mm), broad at the base, sometimes flattened, without transverse striations, sometimes hoary (with gray hairs); colour is brownish-black to dark black.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm; whitish when young, becoming dark brownish-gray at maturity; marbled with numerous branching, winding whitish veins, convoluted, and radiate from the basal cavity.

FLAVOUR: initial sweet notes are strong creamy sweet butanone (24%), strong green grassy hexanal (9%), strong malty-nutty almond pentanal (4%), strong fruity banana methyl propanal (3%), with musty octenol (4%); main savoury notes are earthy asparagus, seaweed methyl thiomethane (7%), dominated by musky-smoky para-methyl anisole (14%).

10% alcohols (ethanol and 1-octen-3-ol)
20% aldehydes (mostly hexanal)
25% ketones (mostly butanone)

15% ethers (mostly methyl anisole)
7% sulphides (mostly methyl thiomethane)

Aroma intensity is medium but stronger than both the summer black and scorzone black. The flavour of autumn black truffle has a sweet creamy-fruit, malty-nutty and green aroma with very strong savoury earthy quality dominated by a distinctive musky-smoky quality, and a slight musty-mushroom note.

The autumn black resembles the musky black in its strong flavour. It has a distinctly pungent smoky note, that varies greatly between specimens and is most characteristic and reminiscent variously of pitch (solid), tar (viscous) and creosote (fluid); this bitumen-like note smells slightly disinfectant and is pervasive, gradually mellowing after exposure to air but still perceptible although not unpleasant. The taste is also strong and distinctive reminiscent of bitter almonds. The strong flavour persists even after cooking, and is not always appreciated, but it is suited for strongly flavoured dishes.


 

GROUP II-A1 (Excavatum Clade) Europe only

– white truffles with deep basal cavity, pale sandy skin and red to brown alveolate, coarsely reticulate spores.

 

This clade is characterized by a thick and hard skin composed of a tightly packed tough inner layer and a looser outer layer that has a peculiar clayey or sandy feel and often can be rubbed off. The most outstanding features are the ascocarps of horny consistency, more or less furfuraceous and ochre, excavated at the base. Only one truffle is notable from this clade, of minor importance.

 


Durone white truffle (Tuber excavatum Vittad. 1831)

Durone white truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber fuscum Corda 1837, Tuber alatum Corda 1854, Tuber lapideum Mattirolo 1887

The Durone white truffle is hard, almost woody with a distinct basal cavity and a horny skin of peculiar sandy texture that can often be rubbed off. It has minimal edibility due to its woodiness and hardness, and no economic value. This truffle is harvested incidentally when encountered during harvesting other truffle species.

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 40°N to 58°N; very common in Europe, known throughout Italy, distributed from Iberia to Russia although not widespread in the north.

HABITAT: up to 1450-1600m elevation; in loose calcareous and clay-limestone soils, even in shallow humus layer, in south-facing broad-leaf woodlands or mixed forests.

HOSTS: downy oak (Quercus pubescens) and holm oak (Quercus ilex); common hazel (Corylus avellana), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia); European beech (Fagus sylvatica), silver birch (Betula pendula) and black poplar (Populus nigra); black pine (Pinus nigra), silver fir (Abies alba) and European spruce (Picea abies).

MATURATION PERIOD: autumn (Sep to Nov)

HARVESTING SEASON: from late summer (late Aug) to early winter (early Dec), but available throughout the year in lower yields.

SIZE: usually small 1-4 cm (5-80g), rarely medium 5-6 cm (125-180g)

SHAPE: sub-globose (nearly rounded), often lobed, sometimes slightly flattened, sulcate (with deep longitudinal grooves) and with a very large conspicuous basal cavity.

OUTER SKIN: hard and woody, smooth but minutely squamous (scaly) with polygonal cells and finely papillose (with minute protuberances); colour when young is pale yellowish-ochre to olive-green, becoming dark orange-brown to reddish-brown at maturity, the colour can vary widely according to the different seasons and locations where it develops.

INNER FLESH: solid, hard, dry and compact; pale ochre when young becoming reddish-brown at maturity; marbled with branching but not numerous whitish to yellowish veins, that radiate from the basal cavity which are wide at some points.

FLAVOUR: initial sweet notes are strong ethereal sweet acetone (40%) and strong ethereal fruity propanol (10%); main savoury notes are alliaceous green onion, radish methyl thiopropene (24%), alliaceous green leek, mustard methyl thiopropane (22%) and earthy asparagus, seaweed methyl thiomethane (2%), with no modifying musky phenolic ethers.

10% alcohols (mostly propanol)
40% ketones (mostly acetone)

45% sulphides (methyl thiopropene, methyl thiopropane, methyl thiomethane)

Aroma intensity is medium, although as strong as the smooth black. The flavour of Durone white truffle has an even combination of sweet ethereal fruity aroma with a savoury earthy onion-leek, pungent radish-mustard quality, without any musky notes. The sulphide notes are most similar to that of the smooth black but less distinctive, and it has no comparable subtlety or complexity to that of the winter white; peculiarly pleasant but not very popular. Among all the culinary truffles the Durone has an aromatic flavour, faint sweetness and stiff texture that are most similar to that of quince (Cydonia oblonga).


 

GROUP II-A2 (Magnatum Clade) Europe only

– white truffles with pale smooth skin and white to brown alveolate, coarsely reticulate spores.

 

This clade is represented by the 'queen of truffles'.

 


winter white truffle (Tuber magnatum Picco 1788)

winter white truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber griseum Borch ex Pers. 1801

LOCAL NAME: best known as 'tartufo bianco pregiato' (precious white truffle) in Italy, or 'tartufo bianco del Piemonte' (Piedmont white truffle) elsewhere

The winter white truffle is the premium and most prestigious of the edible species of truffles; it is the best known of all truffles commanding the highest prices because of its culinary excellence and commercial importance. From the hills of southern Piedmont, it was first discovered in Alba by Polish aristocrat and naturalist Michal-Jan de Borch (1753-1810) in 1780 and formally named by Turin physician and naturalist Vittorio Pico in 1788. This truffle is quite rare and still not possible to cultivate. All winter white are harvested from the wild; each root on the host tree usually produces one truffle per year.

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 40°N to 46°N; restricted to Italy (mostly in the northern and central regions) and Istria (peninsula in the northern Gulf of Trieste across from Italy, now part of Slovenia-Croatia), possibly also in Ticino canton in Switzerland.

HABITAT: 200-1000m, usually below 800m, elevation; able to develop and grow only in specific and limited climatic conditions which are very localised, requiring special terrain with generally well-aerated and well drained soil that is soft and moist for most of the year; in marly-calcareous, sandy soil consisting of sandstone, limestone and clay, in alluvial plain forests, cool wetlands on the humid valley floor and the margins of streams and edges of shady woods, mostly at a depth of 10-30 cm (down to and over 80 cm), but also more surface (2 cm). A limited temperature fluctuation, and a short dry season and rainfalls in Jul and Aug are essential for their production. Since not all soils exhibit these characteristics, it is quite rare, and (with the exception of the smooth black) does not occur with other species of truffles. In Italy, the southernmost and the north-westernmost populations can be significantly differentiated from the rest of the populations.

HOSTS: pedunculate oak (Quercus robur), durmast oak (Quercus petraea), sessile oak (Quercus sessilifolia), holm oak (Quercus ilex), downy oak (Quercus pubescens) and Turkey oak (Quercus cerris); Italian alder (Alnus cordata); common hazel (Corylus avellana), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia); white willow (Salix alba), pussy willowv (Salix caprea), common osier (Salix viminalis), black poplar (Populus nigra), white poplar (Populus alba), common aspen (Populus tremula), European linden (Tilia europaea), small-leaved linden (Tilia cordata) and large-leaved linden (Tilia platyphyllos); black pine (Pinus nigra), stone pine (Pinus pinea), silver fir (Abies alba) and common juniper (Juniperus communis).

MATURATION PERIOD: mid-autumn (early Oct) to mid-winter (early Jan)

HARVESTING SEASON: short season starts in early autumn (early Sep) and ends with the maturing period in (early Jan); the peak season is from Oct to Nov, when the truffle market in Alba is busiest.

SIZE: variable, usually small to medium 2-8 cm (20-320g), often very large 12-15 cm (720-1125g)

SHAPE: globular, gibbous (humped), often separated into several distinct lobes and slightly flattened, with numerous depressions; form various depending on the types of soil where it grows, the more rounded specimens grew in loose soils, while the more sinuous and compressed specimens in compact soils.

OUTER SKIN: smooth and slightly velvety, and may be finely granular or papillose (with minute protuberances) but not always visible; colour varies from pale cream to amber, sometimes with olive-greenish or reddish-purple shades, to yellowish-ochre and reddish-gray.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm with soapy texture; whitish to pale cream, pink or gray when young, becoming mostly yellowish-ochre to reddish-brown or reddish-sooty (even completely purplish-red like beet), often with flesh-red spots at maturity; marbled with a pronounced web of numerous, tenuous (slender), sinuous (winding), connected and overlapping, whitish to occasional pink veins that terminate irregularly at the rim; the colour is affected by its host tree species, acquiring a darker brown with oaks, a lighter beige with poplars and willows, and reddish with linden.

Depending on the species and maturity of the trees the truffle associates with – lighter tone with hazel trees and darker with oak trees; in truffles associating with linden trees, there are numerous thin whitish marks which are overlaid with each other to produce a ripple appearance.

FLAVOUR: initial sweet notes are strong green grassy hexanal (17%), strong nutty-cocoa methyl butanal (9%), strong creamy sweet butanone (8%) and strong ethereal sweet acetone (3%); main savoury notes are alliaceous-garlic, meaty bis-methyl thiomethane (35%), earthy asparagus, seaweed methyl thiomethane (7%) and earthy cabbage, turnip methyl dithiomethane (3%), modified by musky methyl anisole (10%).

30% aldehydes (mostly hexanal)
10% ketones (mostly butanone)
5% alcohols

10% phenolic ethers (mostly methyl anisole)
45% sulphides (bismethyl thiomethane, methyl thiomethane, methyl dithiomethane)

Aroma intensity is very strong. The flavour of winter white truffle has a rich and complex combination of ethereal creamy sweet with nutty-cocoa and distinct green aroma with a pronounced savoury quality dominated by an alliaceous (garlicky) note blended with earthy asparagus and cabbage, and modified by musky-spicy note. It is penetrating, characteristic and the distinctive meaty alliaceous-garlic note is unmistakable. It has no musty-mushroom note at all. The winter white aroma is the most pleasant and unique among truffles. Specimens that grow in contact with oak trees have the most persistent (long-lasting) aroma, and with hazel trees, the most intense (strong-smelling).

 

Note – The most significant flavour component of winter white truffle, bis-methyl thiomethane, was first identified in 1967. It is commercially synthesised and known as 2,4-dithiapentane. Although this single chemical cannot emulate the full flavour of the natural truffle, fraudulent chefs use it in oil to fake the flavour of winter white truffle. The natural flavour is produced by a multitude of components, including the three major sulphides, (bis-methyl thiomethane, methyl thiomethane and methyl dithiomethane) first identified in 1989. The use of this artificial flavour creates a false impression of what truffle is supposed to smell like for countless numbers of people.


 

GROUP II-A3 (Rufum Clade) Europe, Asia and North America

– red truffles with a shallow depression, pale reddish scaly skin and beige to red spinulate spores.

 

This clade is the second largest after the Puberulum clade spread across three continents; similarly, in spite of the large number of species, very few members of this clade have economic value.

The red truffles are intermediate between the white and black having a skin texture that is not smooth or warty but scaly with minute warts resembling the reddish-scaly skin of immature truffles. They are pale in colour, small in size, fleshy and usually have a shallow depression rather than a cavity. The skin is two layered but the outer one is solidly packed and may form small warts.

 


cinnamon truffle (Tuber rufum Picco 1788)

cinnamon truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber suillum Bornholtz 1826, Tuber cinereum Tulasne et Tulasne 1844, Tuber scleroneurum Berkeley et Broome 1851, Tuber bonneti Roumeguere 1882, Tuber lucidum Bonnet 1884, Tuber caroli Bonnet 1885, Tuber rutilim R. Hesse 1894

The cinnamon truffle is characterised by its high aldehyde content (40.2%), often grows under thymes (Thymus species) and is distinguished from the russet truffle (Tuber ferrugineum) by the horny peridium (skin).

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 38°N to 56°N; widely distributed throughout Europe.

HABITAT: moist calcareous soil on limestone plateaus in humid mixed broad-leaf and conifer woods and forests. It occurs in similar habitat with the summer black.

HOSTS: holm oak (Quercus ilex) and roble oak (Quercus faginea); sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), common hazel (Corylus avellana) and black pine (Pinus nigra).

MATURATION PERIOD: mid-autumn (Oct) to mid-winter (Jan)

HARVESTING SEASON: from early autumn (Sep) to late winter (Feb), but available throughout the year when conditions are favourable.

SIZE: usually small 1-4 cm (5-80g)

SHAPE: sub-globose (nearly rounded), sometimes with a depression at the base.

OUTER SKIN: scaly, covered with areolas (small surrounding space) and minute, flattened pyramidal warts; colour is usually reddish-brown but can vary from yellowish-brown to blackish-brown.

INNER FLESH: solid and hard; whitish when young becoming ochre to dark-brown at maturity; marbled with two types of numerous branching, thin veins; one type is whitish with cavities and the other is dark coloured and without.

FLAVOUR: initial sweet notes are strong green grassy hexanal (16%), strong malty-nutty almond pentanal (14%), medium fruity-wine methyl butanol (9%), strong sharp fruity methyl propanol (7%), medium fruity apricot butanol (6%), strong nutty-cocoa methyl butanal (4%), strong ethereal sweet acetone (7.5%) and sweet fruity pear methyl propyl formate (5%); main savoury notes are earthy asparagus, seaweed methyl thiomethane (4%), with no modifying musky phenolic ethers.

30% alcohols (mostly methyl butanol)
40% aldehydes (mostly pentanal and hexanal) – very high level
10% ketones (mostly acetone)
8% esters (mostly methyl propyl formate)

4% sulphides (mostly methyl thiomethane)

Aroma intensity is strong. The flavour of cinnamon truffle has a predominantly distinctive sharp green, fruity-wine and malty-nutty cocoa aroma with a mild earthy savoury quality, without any musky notes.

Note: (It was named cinnamon truffle for its rusty red cinnamon colour, not for any spicy cinnamon flavour.)


shiny truffle (Tuber nitidum Vittad. 1831)

shiny truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber malacodermum E. Fischer 1923, Tuber vacini Velenovsky 1947, Tuber rufum f. nitidum (Vittad.) Montecchi & Lazzari 1993

Although there is no microscopic difference between the two species, the shiny truffle differs from the cinnamon truffle by its smaller size, lighter colour, smoother, more fragile skin without the minute scaly warts or cracks, and paler flesh.

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 38°N to 56°N; widespread in Europe.

HABITAT: in calcareous soils associated with broad-leaf trees and conifers, in sunnier and drier places than the cinnamon truffle, often sharing habitat with the summer black.

HOSTS: holm oak (Quercus ilex), common hazel (Corylus avellana), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and black poplar (Populus nigra).

MATURATION PERIOD: late spring (May) to late summer (Aug)

HARVESTING SEASON: from mid-spring (late Apr) to early autumn (early Sep), but available throughout the year when conditions are favourable.

SIZE: usually small 1-3 cm (5-45g)

SHAPE: globular or sub-globose (nearly rounded), often with a slightly depressed basal cavity of a very tight and narrow groove-shape.

OUTER SKIN: smooth to sub-papillose (with slight minute protuberances), sub-pubescent (slightly hairy), sometimes pruinose (powdery), not separable, hard, partially gelatinised, and white; colour is yellowish-ochre to brown ochre.

INNER FLESH: solid and hard; whitish when young becoming light brown at maturity; marbled with two types of branching, thin veins, not numerous: one type is grayish with cavities and the other is reddish-tinged and without.

FLAVOUR: initial sweet notes are strong ethereal sweet acetone (26%), medium fruity-wine methyl butanol (12%), strong nutty-cocoa methyl butanal (12%), strong sharp fruity methyl propanol (6%), strong fruity banana methyl propanal (6%), and sweet fruity pear methyl propyl formate (10%), with musty octenol (4%); main savoury notes are slightly earthy asparagus, seaweed methyl thiomethane (2%), with no modifying musky phenolic ethers.

40% alcohols (mostly methyl butanol)
20% aldehydes (mostly methyl butanal)
30% ketones (mostly acetone)
12% esters (mostly methyl propyl formate)

2% sulphides (mostly methyl thiomethane)

Aroma intensity is strong. The flavour of bright truffle has a predominantly distinctive ethereal-wine fruity-pear and moderately malty-nutty cocoa aroma with a very mild earthy savoury quality, without any musky notes, but with a slight musty-mushroom note.


pecan truffle (Tuber lyonii Heimsch 1903)

pecan truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber texense Heimsch 1959

The pecan truffle was first collected at the base of pecan trees in an orchard in Austin, Texas (3.5cm) in 1958 and identified as Tuber texense in 1959. Later it was found more abundantly in 1987 also among the roots of several large pecan trees in an orchard in Albany, Georgia (5.5cm). It was consistently found in association with pecan trees in those states in the Deep South. In 1996, Tuber texense was found to be the same species as Tuber lyonii by the University of Georgia, examining specimens collected by Francisca Marzitelli from Ville d’Anjou in Quebec, and Tuber texense is now synonymous with Tuber lyonii. This reclassification greatly expands the known geographical and host range of this truffle from the south-east to the entire eastern seaboard. It is not restricted to pecan orchards; Linda Guenzel in Texas noted the pecan truffle under oak trees, eaten by squirrels.

The pecan (Carya illinoinensis) is native to the Mississippi basin and is an economically important nut crop in the southern US, and Georgia is the leading pecan nut producing state. The pecan truffle is relatively abundant nearly anywhere pecan trees are grown, and is regularly and readily found fruiting in productive pecan orchards. It is commonly harvested together with pecan nuts, and currently constitutes a secondary item, but is still in early commercial development, and only available seasonally on a limited basis from south Georgia. The largest truffle supplier is the Magnolia Plantation in Albany.

The truffles can be anywhere around the tree, although most abundant from adjacent to the trunk to about the drip line of the tree. Where they occur, they are easy to find. They grow fairly close to the surface unattached, a few centimetres beneath the top soil, and sometimes even appear partially exposed on the surface, protruding from the bare soil. The pecan truffle also cause truffle brule ‘burns’ killing grass and other vegetation on the surface in areas where it forms below ground, and these areas make it even easier to find. Some growers sweep up the truffles with the pecans at harvest. Where the soil surface has been swept clean following the harvest, more truffles are found by raking the surface of the soil with a stiff-tined garden rake; if any are present, typically, the tines will catch on the truffles. The pecan truffle often reoccurs in the same areas in successive years, and harvest does not appear to be detrimental to future production.

In the south-east, the commercial harvest is used in local and regional restaurants, notably in Savannah, and sold by truffle merchants throughout the country. Although culinary appreciation of the pecan truffle started later than the Oregon whites, interest in local restaurants is increasing with a variety of chefs experimenting with its distinctive flavour and texture in local dishes. In Louisiana, the pecan truffle is used in the south-eastern classical Creole cuisine of New Orleans and the south-western rustic Cajun cuisine of Acadiana, especially jambalaya rice dish with onion, celery and carrot. It is used similarly to the winter white of Italy; thin slices added to dishes just before serving, without subjecting to excessive heat.

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 20°N to 45°N; widespread across eastern North America along the Appalachian Mountains from south-eastern Canada to north-eastern Mexico; from Georgia, north to South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, into southern Ontario and Quebec in Canada, and south to Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, along the Gulf Coast to Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and into Nuveo-Leon and Tamaulipas in Mexico.

HABITAT: locally common on the edge of oak-hickory woods associated with linden (Tilia) or hawthorn (Crateagus); on steep banks with shaded northern or southern exposures; in heavier, stiff, calcareous clay soil covered with shallow layer of leaf-mold. It is most easily found in commercial pecan orchards, on numerous varieties of pecan trees, tending to be in the more crowded and shaded sections, usually in well-irrigated orchards, particularly those with sprinkler irrigation.

HOSTS: bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa), scrub oak (Quercus turbinella), Monterey oak (Quercus polymorpha), scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) and loquat-leaf oak (Quercus rysophylla); pecan (Carya illinoensis), shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) and American linden (Tilia americana); it will form mycorrhiza especially with oak and pecan but not pine trees.

MATURATION PERIOD: mid-summer (Jul) to mid-autumn (Oct)

HARVESTING SEASON: from early summer (early Jun) to late autumn (late Nov) coinciding with the pecan nut harvest, but available throughout the year when conditions are favourable.

SIZE: usually small to medium 3-5 cm (45-125g), sometimes medium 7cm (250g)

SHAPE: oval, sub-globose (nearly rounded), often lobed, especially on one side.

OUTER SKIN: solid and hard, relatively smooth with shallow to deep scabrous (rough surface) white furrows, sometimes cracking exposing lighter buff-coloured interior, with no visible warts; colour is yellowish-brown to orange brown or reddish-brown, sometimes brick-red brown, often with dark brown patches.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm; whitish to gray when young becoming light brown at maturity; marbled with branching narrow whitish veins bordered by dark brownish veins, surrounded by a pigmented layer, convoluted and radiate from the base, emerging through the skin in surface furrows, producing a conspicuous appearance with alternating streaks of brown and white.

FLAVOUR: aroma profile not yet determined.

Aroma intensity is medium. The flavour of pecan truffle is strong creamy and earthy with an intriguing fresh green corn note. The pecan truffle is slightly milder and not quite as rich, but with a nuttier taste than the Oregon whites.

Note: (It was named pecan truffle because it was found growing most commonly with pecan trees, not because it has a pecan nut flavour.)


 

GROUP II-A4 (Spinoreticulum Clade) North America only

– brown truffle with spinulate-reticulate spores.

 

This clade is embedded between the Rufum and Melanosporum Clades. This group is comprised of only one unusual species (Tuber spinoreticulatum Uecker & Burdsall 1977) first discovered in Nov 1969 in Hagerstown, Maryland, US. It differs from all other truffle species; its single-layered peridium (skin) is unique in that it is composed of thin-walled, inflated vesicular cells.

It is small (1.4-2.5cm), pubescent (hairy) broad, spherical or slightly elongate, with a small distinct cavity on one side; the outer skin is pale-yellow to yellowish-brown and brownish-gray, leathery with small, low, flattened pyramidal warts (1mm broad); the inner flesh is marbled and veined with white external veins and indistinguishable inner veins with no apparent opening to the exterior. The spores are ornamented with broad-based spines connected by low walls to form a reticulum.

Found among oak, hickory, elm and black cherry (Prunus serotina) trees, it matures throughout spring and summer, and has a scent reminiscent of cabbage that is unpleasant to the palate, and has no culinary value.

 


 

GROUP II-B (Melanosporum Clade) Europe, Asia and North America

– black truffles with dark large warts and large black spinulate-reticulate spores.

 

This Clade originated from a common ancestor to all the black truffles, located between Europe and China, probably in northern India.

Two Sub-Clades evolved and diverged relatively early with successive migrations through a northern route; the first group with Tuber brumale to Europe and Tuber pseudohimalayense to China, followed by the second group with Tuber melanosporum to Europe and Tuber indicum and Tuber himalayense to China, leading to vicariant (geographically separated) species.

It is represented in North America by Tuber sylviae in Oregon and Tuber regimontanum in Mexico.

 


muscat black truffle (Tuber brumale Vittad. 1831)

muscat black truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber hiemalbum Chatin 1869, Tuber renati H. Bonnet 1884, Tuber montanum Chatin 1891

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 40°N to 55°N; widespread in Europe, mostly in the south, in France, Italy and the Balkans, extending to Greece, extending to the northern alpine regions.

HABITAT: 500-1000m elevation; relatively undemanding without any special climatic requirements and can tolerate soils with stagnant water, prefers rich soil also with the high concentration of clay, usually is covered with moss, in cool, shady positions, located mostly at the edge of cultivated fields, in meadows and also gardens in hilly areas rather than the valleys. It shares the same habitat as the summer black, but can grow in less calcareous soils and more humid places (and prefers hazels and lindens).

HOSTS: pedunculate oak (Quercus robur), durmast oak (Quercus petraea), sessile oak (Quercus sessilifolia), holm oak (Quercus ilex), downy oak (Quercus pubescens) and Turkey oak (Quercus cerris); European beech (Fagus sylvatica); Italian alder (Alnus cordata); common hazel (Corylus avellana), Turkish hazel (Corylus colurna), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia); white willow (Salix alba), pussy willowv (Salix caprea), common osier (Salix viminalis), black poplar (Populus nigra), white poplar (Populus alba), common aspen (Populus tremula), European linden (Tilia europaea), small-leaved linden (Tilia cordata) and large-leaved linden (Tilia platyphyllos); forest pine (Pinus sylvestris), black pine (Pinus nigra), stone pine (Pinus pinea), Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) and maritime pine (Pinus pinaster).

MATURATION PERIOD: winter (Dec to Feb)

HARVESTING SEASON: from late autumn (mid-Nov) to early spring (mid-Mar).

SIZE: usually small to medium 2-5 cm (20-125g), sometimes medium to large 6-8cm (180-320g)

SHAPE: quite compact, globular or sub-globose (nearly rounded), often with a small basal depression.

OUTER SKIN: slight covering of 5-6 sided pyramidal warts (1-3mm wide), short, flat and hollow, vertically fissured with ridges, often blunt at the apex and depressed in the centre, and sometimes reddish at the base; colour when young is reddish-brown, becoming brownish-black or bluish-black at maturity.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm; whitish to smoky-gray when young becoming violet-gray to brownish-gray and blackish at maturity; marbled with sparse, thick, garish, widely-spaced, whitish or straw-yellow veins that often dilate at the end points or many of them converge to the same point producing whitish spots that become reddish when exposed to air; may show a 'glassy' appearance.

FLAVOUR: initial sweet notes are strong ethereal sweet acetone (18%), strong sharp fruity methyl propanol (14%), medium fruity-wine methyl butanol (12%), medium fruity apricot butanol (7%), strong green grassy hexanal (8%), and sweet fruity raspberry ethyl methyl formate (4.5%); main savoury notes are earthy asparagus, seaweed methyl thiomethane (8%), modified by traces of musky-spicy ortho-methyl anisole (trace).

45% alcohols (mostly methyl propanol and methyl butanol)
15% aldehydes (mostly hexanal)
25% ketones (mostly acetone)
5% esters (mostly ethyl methyl formate)

trace ethers (methyl anisole)
8% sulphides (mostly methyl thiomethane)

Aroma intensity is medium. The flavour of muscat black truffle has a pronounced sweet ethereal fruity-berry, grape-like aroma with a milder savoury asparagus-turnip and only lightly musky-spicy nutmeg quality. It is distinctive and pleasant, similar to that of the autumn black but more distinctive and less persistent than that of the winter black, and not as pleasant.


musky black truffle
(Tuber brumale var moschatum (Bull.) I.R. Hall, P.K. Buchanan, Y. Wang & Cole 1998)

musky black truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber moschatum Bull. 1790, Tuber melanosporum var. moschatum Ferry & H. Bonnet 1893

The musky black was first recognised as a separate type of truffle from the winter black and the muscat black in 1888.

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 35°N to 50°N; widespread in Europe, mainly in the south and less in central; in Spain, France, Italy, from the north to Sicily and common in the central regions; to Germany and Hungary.

HABITAT: able to develop on large areas formed by rocks of very different geological ages, but particularly favors land rich in fine and coarse constituents with ventilated structure and lumpy soil, and avoids poor drainage land; located in the woods or at the edges of clearings, along the fields and hedges, always in sunny areas. The musky black does not form brule like the muscat black.

HOSTS: pedunculate oak (Quercus robur), holm oak (Quercus ilex), common hazel (Corylus avellana) and hornbeam (Carpinus betulus).

MATURATION PERIOD: winter (Dec to Feb)

HARVESTING SEASON: from late autumn (mid-Nov) to early spring (mid-Mar); same season as the muscatel black.

SIZE: usually medium 2-5cm (20-125g), sometimes large 8-10cm (320-500g)

SHAPE: globular, often with a small basal cavity.

OUTER SKIN: finely covered with polygonal warts (1-3mm wide) low, broad at the base, vertically fissured with ridges, often depressed, and flattened apex often present on the surface of a small cavity; colour when young is brownish-black, becoming purplish-black at maturity.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm; smoky gray when young becoming brownish-beige at maturity; marbled with sparse, coarse, widely-spaced whitish veins producing white patches in places.

FLAVOUR: aroma profile not yet determined.

Aroma intensity is medium. The flavour of musky black truffle is similar to that of muscat black but is stronger and more pervasive, with a more pronounced musky quality and distinctly spicy turnip and mossy notes.


winter black truffle (Tuber melanosporum Vittad. 1831)

winter black truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber gulosorum F.H. Wigg. 1780, Tuber cibarium Bull. 1791, Tuber verrucosum Persoon 1797, Tuber gulonum (Corda) Paol. 1889

LOCAL NAMES: 'truffe noire du Perigord' (Perigord black truffle) in France, 'tartufo nero di Norcia' (Norcia black truffle) in Italy, 'negro trufa de Sarrion' (Sarrion black truffle) in Spain

The second most commercially valuable truffle after the winter white, the winter black on the market is both wild and cultivated. It is the most widely cultivated truffle species, with extensive areas of plantings particularly in France, Spain and Italy. Various oaks are usually used as hosts to innoculate the mycorrhiza, and sometimes also hazels. With the decline of wild truffles, winter blacks are increasingly being harvested from cultivated plantations. Cultivation of the winter black has also been introduced to foreign lands in the US, New Zealand, Tasmania and Chile.

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 40°N to 48°N; throughout southern and central Europe, mostly in France, and in Spain and Italy, also in the Balkans and Hungary.

HABITAT: 400-1000m elevation; prefers permeable, porous, sedimentary calcareous soil, with clay content not exceeding 40%, and 1.5 to 8% of humus, (this soil is gravelly and very chalky, generally aerated and well drained due to the porosity derived from cracking of the rocks and high concentration of stones), in well ventilated, warm, limestone terrains and sunny slopes on hilly and mountainous areas, rarely in the north, mostly at a depth of 5-15 (-30) cm; requires evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year, thunderstorms in summer (Jul-Aug), and moderate rain in winter.

HOSTS: pedunculate oak (Quercus robur), durmast oak (Quercus petraea), sessile oak (Quercus sessilifolia), holm oak (Quercus ilex), downy oak (Quercus pubescens), roble oak (Quercus faginea), cork oak (Quercus suber), Kermes oak (Quercus coccifera), Macedonian oak (Quercus trojana) and Turkey oak (Quercus cerris); sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica); common walnut (Juglans regia); silver birch (Betula pendula), common alder (Alnus glutinosa) and Italian alder (Alnus cordata); common hazel (Corylus avellana), Turkish hazel (Corylus colurna), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia); white willow (Salix alba), pussy willowv (Salix caprea), common osier (Salix viminalis), black poplar (Populus nigra), white poplar (Populus alba), common aspen (Populus tremula), European linden (Tilia europaea), small-leaved linden (Tilia cordata) and large-leaved linden (Tilia platyphyllos); also known to associate with herbaceous plants, including the vernal grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum); forest pine (Pinus sylvestris), black pine (Pinus nigra), stone pine (Pinus pinea), Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis), maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), silver fir (Abies alba), European spruce (Picea abies) and common juniper (Juniperus communis).

MATURATION PERIOD: winter (Dec to Feb)

HARVESTING SEASON: starts in late autumn (mid-Nov) and ends in early spring (mid-Mar); peak season is from Dec to Jan.

SIZE: very variable, usually medium 2-6 cm (20-180g) often very large 10-15 cm (500-1125g)

SHAPE: compact, slightly bumpy and sometimes lobed; form depending on soils conditions, regular and globular in sandy soils and irregular and sub-globose (almost rounded) in stony soils.

OUTER SKIN: covered with mid-size (3-5mm) 4-6 sided pyramidal warts, vertically grooved with radial ribs and centrally depressed, rounded, hollow apex, brownish-black sometimes reddish at the base; colour when young is pale reddish-brown, becoming reddish-black or brownish-black, sometimes with deep red russet (rusty-colour) stains in muddled areas at maturity.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm; whitish to gray when young becoming reddish-gray on exposure to air and brown with scarlet or violet hues to purplish-black at maturity; marbled with numerous branching fine whitish veins, some thick and some thin, with well-defined, dense, narrow, sharp boundaries surrounded by two brown bands with translucent sides; central vein is usually white and lateral veins brown.

FLAVOUR: initial sweet notes are medium ethereal ethanol (20%), strong sharp fruity methyl propanol (15%), medium fruity-wine methyl butanol (12%), strong fruity banana methyl propanal (7%), strong nutty-cocoa methyl butanal (7%), strong ethereal sweet acetone (10%) and strong creamy sweet butanone (5%); main savoury notes are earthy asparagus, seaweed methyl thiomethane (12%), with light musky anisole (1%).

50% alcohols (ethanol, methyl propanol, methyl butanol)
20% aldehydes (methyl propanal, methyl butanal)
15% ketones (acetone, butanone)

trace ethers
12% sulphides (methyl thiomethane)

Aroma intensity is very strong. The flavour of winter black truffle has a rich and complex combination of pronounced ethereal sweet fruity almost strawberry and malty-nutty like cream corn, slightly spicy, burnt coffee-cocoa aroma with a milder savoury-musky earthy asparagus quality. It is persistent, distinctive, surprisingly variable and very pleasant; less pungent, savoury, more delicately sweet-spicy and overall milder and less complex than the winter white. Its fruity aroma reminiscent of wild strawberries is quite characteristic.


Chinese black truffle (Tuber indicum Cooke & Massee 1892)

Chinese black truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber sinense Tao & Liu 1989, Tuber sinense X.L. Mao 2000

LOCAL NAME: 'song-mao fuling' (pine-needle fungus) in China

The Chinese black truffle was first discovered in the north-western Himalayas from Mussorie hill station in Uttarakhand state in northern India and identified as Tuber indicum in 1892; nearly a hundred years later it was discovered in China in 1989 and formally identified as Tuber sinense. In 2000 molecular data subsequently indicated that Tuber sinense is the same species as Tuber indicum, and Tuber sinense is now treated as a synonym for Chinese black truffle. No commercial truffles are exported from India.

Truffles are abundant in China in areas where they occur; due to their bountiful growth, they are harvested in large quantities and are available very cheaply. They are not as highly regarded locally and most truffles harvested in China are exported all over the world, especially to Europe, the centre of truffle trade that have shown an increasing interest in the import of Chinese truffles as a good complement to the deficit market for European truffles.

85% percent of Chinese truffles come from Yunnan province (50%) and Sichuan province (35%). The main harvesting areas are in the contiguous areas in Lijiang, Dali and Chuxiong prefectures in northern Yunnan, and Liangshan and Pahzhihua prefectures in southern Sichuan; with the two collection and trading centres respectively in the Yunnan capital, Kunming, and the Sichuan capital, Chengdu.

Small amounts of Chinese black were first exported to Germany in 1989 for appraisal in flavouring liver sausages, similarly to the French use of winter black truffle in foie-gras. The Chinese black became known internationally in the early 1990s when commercial exports commenced. Since 1993, exports to Europe have increased dramatically, particularly to France (20 tons), Spain and Italy.

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 24°N to 32°N; predominantly in SW China, in the the Hengduan Mountains area bordering two provinces in southern Sichuan and northern Yunnan

HABITAT: altitude 2000 to 2500m; with oaks and pines in alpine forests.

HOSTS: sawtooth oak (Quercus acutissima) and zhui-lian oak (Quercus franchetti); Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima); Nepalese alder (Alnus nepalensis); Yunnan yellow pine (Pinus yunnanensis), Yunnan white pine (Pinus armandii) and Chinese red pine (Pinus massonia).

MATURATION PERIOD: winter (Dec to Feb)

HARVESTING SEASON: from late autumn (mid-Nov) to in early spring (mid-Mar).

SIZE: usually small 2-5 cm (20-125g), sometimes large 8-10 cm (320-500g)

SHAPE: globular, bumpy and sometimes lobed.

OUTER SKIN: solid and hard, covered with irregular 4-6 sided coarsely eroded pyramidal warts (2-4mm wide); colour is dark reddish-brown to brownish-black.

INNER FLESH: solid of elastic texture; whitish when young becoming purplish-black at maturity; marbled with numerous branching fine small ivory veins, with a velvety appearance.

FLAVOUR: initial sweet notes are strong ethereal sweet acetone (22%), medium fruity-wine methyl butanol (10%), sweet fruity citrus octanal (5%) and sweet fruity cognac heptanal (4%); main savoury notes are earthy asparagus, seaweed methyl thiomethane (10%), dominated by strong musky methyl anisole (26%).

12% alcohols (mostly methyl butanol)
12% aldehydes (mostly heptanal and octanal)
30% ketones (mostly acetone)

26% phenolic ethers (mostly methyl anisole)
10% sulphides (mostly methyl thiomethane)

Aroma intensity is moderate and lasting. The flavour of Chinese black truffle has a mildly sweet ethereal fruity cognac-wine aroma with a distinctly musky and slightly savoury quality.

Note - the flavour of Chinese black truffles exported to Europe has been compromised by the substantial inclusion of immature specimens with no aroma, diminishing the overall quality.


Himalayan black truffle (Tuber himalayense B.C. Zhang & Minter 1988)

Himalayan black truffle

 

SYNONYMS: none

LOCAL NAME: 'wu-niang tong' (fruiting-body without-mother-plant) in China

The Himalayan black occurs on much higher slopes than the Chinese black. Due to the very high altitude, the Himalayan black is much more difficult to find, harvest, collect and transport, and is only harvested in very small quantities and supplied by a few traders in China. The output is much smaller, and it is not as frequently available on world markets than the Chinese black, accounting for 10% of the total black truffle export from China to Europe.

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 28°N to 34°N; the eastern Himalayas, mainly in Nyingchi prefecture of south-eastern Tibet at about 3500m, spreading across into the neighbouring larger Garze prefecture in Sichuan province and smaller Deqen prefecture (formerly Zhongdian) in Yunnan province.

HABITAT: altitude 3000 to 4000m; with alpine oaks and pines below the snow zone - the highest occuring commercial truffle.

HOSTS: Himalayan oak (Quercus lamellosa); Himalayan pine (Pinus wallichiana) and chir pine (Pinus roxburghii).

MATURATION PERIOD: winter (Dec to Feb)

HARVESTING SEASON: short season within the maturing period, from mid-Dec to mid-Feb.

SIZE: usually small 1-3cm (5-45g); tends to be smaller than the Chinese black

SHAPE: sub-globose (nearly rounded), bumpy and often lobed.

OUTER SKIN: covered with irregular 4-6 sided roughly pyramidal warts (2-4mm wide), flat and wide with poorly defined radial splits; colour is reddish-brownish.

INNER FLESH: solid of elastic texture; whitish when young becoming purplish-gray at maturity; marbled with numerous branching very fine small interwoven ivory veins, randomly distributed.

FLAVOUR: aroma profile not yet determined.

Aroma intensity is moderate and lasting. The flavour of Himalayan black truffle is similar to that of the Chinese black, but is less musky and more savoury, and overall softer, more pleasant, and gastronomically superior.

Note - the flavour of Himalayan black truffles exported to Europe suffers from the same problem as the Chinese black and has been compromised by the substantial inclusion of immature specimens with no aroma, diminishing the overall quality.


 

GROUP III-A (Macrosporum Clade) Europe and North America

– black truffles with dark minute warts and red-brown alveolate-reticulate spores.

 

Species in the Macrosporum clade have smooth or minutely warted peridia (skins) and typically contain fewer than four large alveolate-reticulate spores. The most important species is Tuber macrosporum from Europe.

Tuber melanconii 1979 is an uncommon and rather rare European truffle inhabiting warm regions in clay brown calacerous soils, reported from France, Italy and Spain; it matures from winter to spring, has an unpleasant strong fecal odour and therefore no economic value.

Another truffle from this Clade is Tuber canaliculatum from North America. Many truffle species were identified in North America by Helen Gilkey. Tuber canaliculatum as identified by Gilkey does not have a smooth skin surface like Tuber macrosporum but is not warty. It grows on sandy hillside of maple, oak and hemlock bordering a swamp in Allengan, Michigan.

 


smooth black truffle (Tuber macrosporum Vittad. 1831)

smooth black truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber rhenanum Fuckel 1869

Distinctive for its low flattened warts, and the skin appearing finely wrinkled, it is relatively smooth and horny rather than warty. The smooth black is found in the same places as the winter white, but not the winter black, and harvested at the same time except that it is sensitive to growing conditions, not abundant and usually small in size. It is unusual in growing together in clusters, with several individual truffles in the same hollow, of various sizes, although all quite small, very rarely larger and never attaining a considerable size. The smooth black has outstanding gastronomic qualities, is highly appreciated and much sought after by gourmands (particularly appreciated in France), and generates much economic interest but difficulty in finding, availability in low quantities, irregular supply and modest production have hindered its market success and restricted its market growth. The annual production throughout Europe is highly variable.

Tuber macrosporum causes truffle brule. There is some experimental cultivation on hornbeam hosts in the provinces of Brescia and Mantua in Italy, where brule started to appear after three years, and truffles appeared after four to five years in 2001.

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 40°N to 50°N; within the continental and maritime temperate zone; variable occurrence throughout southern and central Europe, most common in the Balkans, also common in Italy and Istria (similar range to the winter white), less frequently in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia, in Hungary appears sporadically in the mountainous region and small areas in the plains, rare in France and Spain, and not common elsewhere. A specimen was found in Wynmondham, Norfolk, England in Oct 2008 and confirmed by local microbiologist Dr Anne Edwards, the first time in nearly a 100 years since it was last found in 1911.

HABITAT: 80m to 400m elevation; often in fresh and humid, well-drained usually sedimentary limestone soils, also in silt-clay soils, accompanied by high content of organic matter, usually in warm sunny south-facing, open broad-leaf forests edges or woods in floodplains at the bottom of deep shaded valleys, and also in cooler sub-montane and hilly areas; it does not require high temperatures but disappears after the first serious frost. Although tolerant of drought, it has a strong dependence on water presence and a marked preference for moist habitats located near water, along banks of streams or rivers, characterized by the accumulation of excess water regularly, more at certain times of the year and can be temporarily but fully covered by water. In favourably wet habitats where its surface soil water requirement is certain, it can increase significantly in quantity. In the Pannonian Basin (Hungary) the smooth black habitats are mainly characterised by basic soils in stream valleys or river banks temporarily covered by water in mixed forests of hazel, hornbeam and hop-hornbeam.

HOSTS: mostly with pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) and downy oak (Quercus pubescens), also with sessile oak (Quercus petraea), cork oak (Quercus suber) and Turkey oak (Quercus cerris); Italian alder (Alnus cordata); common hazel (Corylus avellana), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia); white willow (Salix alba), pussy willow (Salix caprea), common osier (Salix viminalis), black poplar (Populus nigra), white poplar (Populus alba), common aspen (Populus tremula), field maple (Acer campestris), European linden (Tilia europaea), small-leaved linden (Tilia cordata) and large-leaved linden (Tilia platyphyllos); forest pine (Pinus sylvestris), stone pine (Pinus pinea) and maritime pine (Pinus pinaster); and Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica) in North Africa.

MATURATION PERIOD: autumn (Sep to Nov)

HARVESTING SEASON: from late summer (late Aug) to early winter (early Dec), peak month in autumn, but may start earlier in mid-summer in some warmer rustic areas; harvested at the same time and place as the winter white in Italy.

SIZE: usually small 2-5 cm (20-125g)

SHAPE: compact, sub-globular, bulbous and lumpy, lobed, sometimes tuberculate (with small nodules) and with characteristic creases, often flattened and stretched.

OUTER SKIN: thick (200-300 microns), covered with small dissimilar polygonal warts (0.5-2mm wide), almost quadrangular in shape, irregular in size and form, flattened and often ridged and slightly folded, producing a delicately wrinkled appearance, often interlaced with long large cracks; colour when young is grayish-brown becoming reddish-brown and finally blackish, sometimes with russet (rusty-coloured) spots or patches at maturity. The colour would vary with the associated plant hosts, lighter with willows and poplars, more brownish with oaks, and more reddish with lindens.

INNER FLESH: solid, compact and firm, sometimes rather hard; whitish-gray to whitish-brown when young becoming yellowish-red to reddish-purple, rusty-brown and purplish-black at maturity, almost always with a range of shades; marbled with numerous slender, winding clear, whitish veins which are narrow in some points and wide in others.

FLAVOUR: initial sweet notes are strong creamy sweet butanone (12%) and strong ethereal sweet acetone (8%); main savoury notes are dominated by an alliaceous-green leek, mustard methyl thiopropane (45%) blended with alliaceous-green onion, radish methyl thiopropene (20%) and earthy asparagus, seaweed methyl thiomethane (5%), with no modifying musky phenolic ethers.

20% ketones (mostly butanone and acetone)
5% alcohols and 4% aldehydes (mostly methyl propanal)

70% sulphides (methyl thiopropane, methyl thiopropene, methyl thiomethane) – very high level

Aroma intensity is strong. The flavour of smooth black truffle has an ethereal creamy sweet aroma with a distinct and dominant pungent earthy savoury quality, without any musky notes, reminiscent of wild garlic. It is pleasant with the most pronounced savoury quality among all truffles and the closest flavour to that of the winter white but is less intense, complex or characteristic. The excellent taste is sweet and pleasant when cooked.


 

GROUP III-B1 (Gibbosum Clade) North America only

– white truffles with pale smooth beady skin and large white alveolate-reticulate spores.

 

This clade is morphologically and genetically distinct from other clades, distinguished by distinctive, irregularly swollen walls on hyphal tips emerging from the skin surface at maturity.

Species resolved in this clade appear to have evolved and speciated from a common ancestor in the ecosystems of western North America. They are endemic to the Pacific Northwest US and adjacent Canada, associated primarily with conifers, and appear to be host specific predominantly to the coastal variety of the douglas tree (Pseudotsuga menziesii var menziesii).

 

The original Oregon white truffle (Tuber gibbosum) was first collected on the northern California coast in spring and identified at the end of the 19th century. It was thought to be a single variable species that fruited from autumn through winter to spring, but morphological studies suggested it might be a complex that includes at least two species. Several colour and aromatic differences have been detected among seasonal collections and amateur collectors have differentiated two varieties, autumn and spring. In the late 1960’s they became popular as a culinary delicacy, and since the 1980s both have been commercially harvested from forests in the north-western US. Over 100 years after the Oregon white was first collected, three other species were formally identified in 2010. Within this four species complex, the Oregon autumn-white (Tuber oregonense), which is the least similar to the other species, have been distinguished from the Oregon spring-white (Tuber gibbosum).

The two intermediate species, Tuber bellisporum 2010 and Tuber castellanoi 2010, are the most similar to each other, and both are more closely related to Tuber gibbosum than Tuber oregonense; they have no culinary or commercial value.

Tuber bellisporum and Tuber castellanoi have an intermediate distribution range, west of the Cascade Mountains from south-western Washington south through south-western Oregon to north-western California; from near sea-level to about 500m elevation in mesic to xeric habitats for Tuber bellisporum, and to about 900m mostly in xeric habitats for Tuber castellanoi (it seems adapted to relatively dry habitats), associated with Pseudotsuga menziesii in pure stands or in mixed forests with Tsuga heterophylla, Quercus spp or Arbutus menziesii. Additionally, Tuber castellanoi is also known from a single locality in the northern Sierra Nevada mountain range of California where it occurs at a considerably higher elevation than the others, at about 1460m, in a mixed forest of Pinus ponderosa, Pinus lambertiana and Abies concolor; the only species in the clade outside the range of the primary host, Pseudotsuga menziesii. Tuber bellisporum mature from Oct to Jan, and Tuber castellanoi from Feb to May. The shape of both is broad, globose to subglobose to irregularly lobed and randomly furrowed; flesh is solid, whitish when young becoming light to dark brown at maturity; marbled with thin whitish veins that emerge through the skin at its furrows; the veins remain white as the flesh darkens. Tuber bellisporum (2-3cm), skin densely pubescent to scabrous in the patches with ivory lines and patches, whitish when young becoming light grayish-brown to yellowish-brown; Tuber castellanoi (3-8cm), skin minutely pubescent, densely in the furrows and more scattered on the exposed lobes with ivory lines and patches, brownish-white when young becoming dull brown; aroma is fruity-malty when young becoming pungent at maturity for Tuber bellisporum, but aroma not recorded for Tuber castellanoi.

 

Both culinary Oregon truffles prefer young 15-40 year old douglas trees and grow most abundantly in dense young forests. Such suitable habitat where peak production of both species occurs is common throughout the region, but most commercial harvesting occurs in a relatively small portion of the overall geographic range, within the area bordering northwest Oregon and southwest Washington. Very few truffles are harvested in other parts of their range. They often occur in great numbers in suitable habitats, but the largest specimens are found in cultivated lands, while those in forests tend to be small in size. Collection of the autumn-white is more reliable than the spring-white.

The harvesting of the two Oregon truffles changes over in Feb when the autumn-white season ends and the spring-white season begins. There are relatively few truffle harvesters in the Pacific Northwest, about 500 people currently harvest Oregon truffles, and the number is either static or growing very slowly. Harvesters also commonly observe evidence of rodents consuming a significant portion of the total crop. The total production of Oregon truffles increased from 3.4 tons in the early 1990s to 6 tons in 2010. This figure represents a small fraction of available production. The truffle industry is still young but in spite of slow growth, the truffles are collected in sufficient quantities to support commercial sales. Natural productivity can be quite high, and the potential supply is much greater than the current harvest, but the potential market is undeveloped and production remains small.

Reports in 1995 of commercial harvesting of both the spring-white and autumn-white in Idaho approximately 500km east of the main part of the range where the forests contain the interior variety of the douglas tree (Pseudotsuga menziesii var glauca) have not been confirmed.

In both species, the texture is quite firm (not spongy), and the interior is white when immature becoming a marbled smokey brown as it matures, while the veins remain white. Oregon white truffles generally have a more tenacious flavour than the European winter white, and are suited for light or brief cooking, more like the black truffles. They have a characteristic resiny note.

 


Oregon-spring white truffle (Tuber gibbosum Harkn. 1899)

Oregon-spring white truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber giganteum Gilkey 1925

Tuber giganteum was collected in clay soil under trees and shrubs at Bandon, Oregon 1921. In 1939 Helen Gilkey (1886-1972) synonymised Tuber giganteum which she identified in 1925 with Tuber gibbosum, having examined specimens of both species and found them to be identical.

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 38°N to 50°N; West of the Cascade Mountains to the coast, from southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, south through western Washington and Oregon to north-western California in the San Francisco Bay area – it has a greater north-south range and wider habitat adaptation, is the most abundant and widespread species within this clade in the Pacific Northwest, and the only one extending into Canada.

HABITAT: from near sea-level to 600m elevation; in heavy red clay soils; in pure stands of 100 year old douglas (Pseudotsuga menziesii) or mixed-conifer forests. The original specimen was collected from Marin County, Mill Valley, California in oak forests and woodlands from douglas roots among the oak trees.

HOSTS: only conifers; predominantly pure stands of douglas (Pseudotsuga menziesii); sometimes also mixed conifer forests of western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), gray pine (Pinus sabiniana), noble fir (Abies procera) and Sitka spruce (Picea stichensis).

MATURATION PERIOD: spring (Mar to May)

HARVESTING SEASON: from late winter (late Feb) to early summer (early Jun).

SIZE: usually small to medium 1-6 cm (5-180g), rarely large 7cm (250g)

SHAPE: smaller specimens globular to sub-globose (nearly rounded) and randomly furrowed; larger ones lobed and deeply furrowed.

OUTER SKIN: thin almost translucent, smooth but cracking and minutely pubescent (hairy), densely in the furrows and more scattered on exposed lobes; colour when young is pale olive green, becoming olive brown to orange brown, with some cinnamon brown mottling at maturity.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm; whitish when young becoming light brown at maturity; marbled with convoluted whitish veins that emerge through the skin to its surface.

FLAVOUR: aroma profile not yet determined.

Aroma intensity is medium. The flavour of Oregon spring white truffle has a mild initial sweet aroma with a stronger savoury quality, slightly spicy note.


Oregon-autumn white truffle (Tuber oregonense Trappe, Bonito & P. Rawl. 2010)

Oregon-autumn white truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber gibbosum var oregonense [no date]

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 42°N to 48°N; West of the Cascade Mountains to the coast, from southern Puget Sound region of south-western Washington south to south-western Oregon – it is the least widely distributed species within this clade in the Pacific Northwest.

HABITAT: from near sea-level to about 425m elevation; in relatively mesic habitats, in dark brown, loose fluffy soils; in pure stands of 100 year old douglas (Pseudotsuga menziesii) or mixed-conifer forests.

HOSTS: only conifers; predominantly pure stands of douglas (Pseudotsuga menziesii); sometimes also mixed conifer forests of western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), gray pine (Pinus sabiniana), noble fir (Abies procera) and Sitka spruce (Picea stichensis).

MATURATION PERIOD: mid-autumn (Oct) to mid-winter (Jan)

HARVESTING SEASON: from early autumn (late Sep) to late winter (late Feb).

SIZE: usually small to medium 1-5 cm (5-125g), sometimes large 7cm (250g)

SHAPE: smaller specimens globular to sub-globose (nearly rounded) and randomly furrowed; larger ones lobed and deeply furrowed.

OUTER SKIN: rough and often with fissures, glabrous (hairless) to minutely pubescent (hairy), densely in the furrows and more scattered on the exposed lobes; colour when young is whitish, developing orange brown to reddish-brown patches and becoming orange brown to reddish-brown overall at maturity.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm; whitish when young becoming smoky brown at maturity; marbled with mostly thin whitish veins that emerge through the skin to its surface.

FLAVOUR: aroma profile not yet determined.

Aroma intensity is medium. The flavour of Oregon autumn white truffle is similar to that of the Oregon spring white, but is distinctly stronger.


 

GROUP III-B2 (Puberulum Clade) Europe, Asia and North America

– white truffles with pale smooth cracked skin and small white alveolate-reticulate spores; soft without a cavity.

 

This Clade includes the majority of truffle species. It is a diverse group of light-colored truffles that are soft, lack a cavity, and characterized by a smooth to cracked peridium (skin) that is rather thin and separates readily from the flesh.

The most important members are two closely related species from central Italy in Tuscany, Marche and Umbria regions, Tuber albidum and Tuber borchii, sought for their garlicky flavour and strong taste. Tuber borchii was reported in north-eastern China in natural forests and plantations in 1990.

Two truffle species with a circum-Mediterranean distribution and harvested commercially from North Africa in the same habitat and are edible even when young; they are very common in Morocco which exports them in large quantities to Europe for the canning industry. They are similar in appearance and differ in their peridium (skin) structure; Tuber sphaerosperma is distinguished from the paler Tuber oligospermum by the furrows and pinkish colour of the skin. They closely resemble terfas and Tuber oligospermum was formerly classified with them, although it has also been found in Albacete in south-eastern Spain. Tuber sphaerosperma was formerly considered a variety of the Tuber albidum.

Members of this clade have a mild to moderate aroma, pleasant at peak maturity becoming less pleasant as it changes after this point, with a similar alliaceous (garlic-like) flavour to the winter white truffle, but of inferior culinary quality. They are cooked like the black truffles to improve the flavour and make them more digestible.

 


downy white truffle (Tuber puberulum Berk. & Broome 1846)

downy white truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber mougeotii Quelet 1881, Tuber murinum R.Hesse 1894, Tuber moretii Maire 1926

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 38°N to 56°N; common throughout Europe, Iberia east to Bulgaria and north to Slovakia.

HABITAT: light sandy soil in association with broad-leaf trees or conifers.

HOSTS: pedunculate oak (Quercus robur), holm oak (Quercus ilex), common hazel (Corylus avellana) and European spruce (Picea abies).

MATURATION PERIOD: mid-summer (Jul) to mid-autumn (Oct)

HARVESTING SEASON: short season during the maturing period from mid-Jun to mid-Nov.

SIZE: usually small 2-3 cm (20-45g), rarely medium 5-7 cm (125-250g)

SHAPE: pyriform (pear-shape) or sub-globose (nearly rounded), sometimes gibbous (humped).

OUTER SKIN: leathery, finely woolly-pubescent (hairy) becoming less so when mature; colour is whitish to creamy yellow when young, becoming yellowish-brown to reddish-brown with dark brown spots.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm; whitish when young, becoming brownish-pink to blackish-purple at maturity; marbled with numerous branching thick whitish veins.

FLAVOUR: aroma profile not yet determined.

Aroma intensity is medium. The flavour of downy white truffle is similar to that of Maruzuolo white but milder and not as distinctive.


Bianchetto white truffle (Tuber albidum Picco 1788)

Bianchetto white truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber puberulum var. albidum Bucholtz 1901

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 36°N to 60°N; very common in Europe, from Sicily to Sweden.

HABITAT: up to 1000m elevation; can adapt to even the toughest environments, prefers loose and sandy soil, especially on well-exposed sunny sides in both coastal and hilly, pine or oak forests.

HOSTS: downy oak (Qercus pubescens), durmast oak (Quercus petraea), sessile oak (Quercus sessilifolia) and Turkey oak (Quercus cerris); forest pine (Pinus sylvestris), black pine (Pinus nigra), stone pine (Pinus pinea), Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis), maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and Turkish pine (Pinus brutia).

MATURATION PERIOD: mid-winter (Jan) to mid-spring (Apr)

HARVESTING SEASON: short season within the maturing period from mid-Jan to mid-Apr; peak period is Feb to Mar.

SIZE: usually small 2-3 cm (20-45g), sometimes medium to large 5-10 cm (125-500g)

SHAPE: globular, sometimes gibbous (humped) with a slight basal depression but not cavity.

OUTER SKIN: smooth, pubescent (hairy) when young becoming glabrous (hairless) when mature; colour when young is yellowish-gray becoming reddish-brown to rusty brown at maturity.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm; whitish to beige when young, becoming tawny brown to purplish-brown, sometimes sooty brown at maturity; marbled with numerous thick whitish veins.

FLAVOUR: initial sweet notes are medium ethereal ethanol (60%) with some strong green grassy hexanal (7%); main savoury notes are very weak, without any detectable sulphides and only a slight musky methyl anisole (3%), and possibly coumarinic g-hexalactone (trace).

70% alcohols (mostly ethanol) – very high level
8.5% aldehydes (mostly hexanal) and 3.5% ketones

3% phenolic ethers

Aroma intensity is medium. The flavour of Bianchetto white truffle has a dominant mildly ethereal sweet and slightly pungent aroma (giving some people the impression of acetylene) while, rare among truffles, lacking any savoury quality, sometimes with an unusual coconut-tonka bean note. It is pervasive but not pleasant to everyone, especially after cooking.


Marzuolo white truffle (Tuber borchii Vittad. 1831)

Marzuolo white truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber album Bull. 1789, Tuber mixtum Risso 1844, Tuber elegans Corda 1854, Tuber nuciforme Corda 1854, Tuber occidentale Corda 1854

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 36°N to 60°N; one of the most common truffles in Europe, especially in the south and central regions.

HABITAT: up to 1000-1600m elevation; a high ecolological adaptability and tolerant of a wide variety of soils, but prefers well-drained, permeable, sandy calcareous soils but will occur in clay soils, often in broad-leaf and especially in conifer woods.

HOSTS: pedunculate oak (Quercus robur), durmast oak (Quercus petraea), sessile oak (Quercus sessilifolia), holm oak (Quercus ilex), downy oak (Quercus pubescens), cork oak (Quercus suber) and Turkey oak (Quercus cerris); sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica); Italian alder (Alnus cordata); common hazel (Corylus avellana), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia); white willow (Salix alba), black poplar (Populus nigra), white poplar (Populus alba), common aspen (Populus tremula) and European linden (Tilia europaea); Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis), European spruce (Picea abies) and European larch (Larix decidua).

MATURATION PERIOD: mid-autumn (Oct) to mid-winter (Jan)

HARVESTING SEASON: short season within the maturing period from mid-Oct to mid-Jan.

SIZE: usually small 2-3 cm (20-45g), sometimes medium 5-7 cm (125-250g)

SHAPE: globular or sub-globose (nearly rounded), sometimes lobed with a basal depression but not a cavity.

OUTER SKIN: smooth, pubescent (hairy) when young becoming glabrous (hairless) and shiny when mature; colour when young is whitish becoming brownish-ochre to dark orange, often with reddish spots darker or paler at maturity.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm; whitish to beige when young, becoming tawny brown to reddish-brown at maturity; marbled with reconnecting, slightly coarse, thick whitish veins which arise from various points on the surface.

FLAVOUR: aroma profile not yet determined.

FLAVOUR: Aroma intensity is medium, increasing from young to mature; moderately fine and pleasant initially becoming stronger and distinctly tangy and garlicky eventually. The flavour of Marzuolo white truffle is similar to that of Bianchetto white with a stronger savoury earthy quality.


Cercuse white truffle (Tuber sphaerospermum (Malencon) P. Roux, Guy Garcia & M.C. Roux 2006)

Cercuse white truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber borchii var. sphaerosperma Malencon 1973

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 25°N to 45°N; ; circum-Mediterranean, widespread in North Africa, also in Spain to southern France.

HABITAT: in siliceous, calcareous and limestone soils in sandy oak and pine forests of the Atlantic coast.

HOSTS: holm oak (Quercus ilex), maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis); and with Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica).

MATURATION PERIOD: mid-spring (Apr) to late spring (May)

HARVESTING SEASON: short season within the maturing period from mid-Apr to mid-May.

SIZE: usually medium 4-5 cm (80-125g)

SHAPE: globular, gibbous (humped) and sometimes deeply lobed.

OUTER SKIN: smooth with cracks becoming pale pink at the gap edges, pubescent (hairy) when young becoming glabrous (hairless) when mature; colour when young is whitish, becoming brownish-ochre at maturity.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm; whitish to gray when young becoming olive brown to dark brown at maturity; marbled with numerous branching whitish to pale cream veins.

FLAVOUR: aroma profile not yet determined.

Aroma intensity is weak. The flavour of Ceruse white truffle is similar to that of the Marzuolo white, having the distinctive ethereal sweet aroma reminiscent of acetylene, but mildly nutty, and not as distinctive as the Marocaine white.


Marocaine white truffle (Tuber oligospermum (Tul. & C. Tul.) Trappe 1979)

Marocaine white truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Terfezia oligosperma Tulasne et C. Tulasne (1851), Delastreopsis oligosperma (Tul et C. Tul.) Mattirolo (1904-05), Lespiaultinia oligosperma (Tul et C. Tul.) Gilkey (1954) - it resembled and was formerly thought to be a terfas 'desert truffle' rather than a typical forest truffle.

It was originally described as a terfas because of its spherical spores which are not very common in truffles, however, the flesh and spore ornamentation match more with truffles than with terfas, having 2-4 spores while terfas are usually 8-spored.

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 30°N to 45°N; circum-Mediterranean, widespread in North Africa, particularly in the Maghreb region, and also in Andalucia in southern Spain.

HABITAT: up to 300m elevation; in aerated, well-structured sandy limestone soils, generally in conifer forests and typically in sandy sea coasts.

HOSTS: holm oak (Quercus ilex), stone pine (Pinus pinea), maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis); and with Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica).

MATURATION PERIOD: late spring (May) to early summer (Jun)

HARVESTING SEASON: short season within the maturing period from mid-May to mid-Jun.

SIZE: usually small 2-3 cm (20-45g), sometimes medium 4-5 cm (80-125g)

SHAPE: pyriform (pear-shape) or sub-globose (nearly rounded), gibbous (humped) and sometimes lobed.

OUTER SKIN: leathery, pubescent (hairy) when young becoming glabrous (hairless) when mature; colour when young is whitish, becoming light grayish-white sometimes with reddish patches at maturity.

INNER FLESH: solid and firm; whitish when young becoming light brown at maturity; marbled with numerous branching whitish veins.

FLAVOUR: aroma profile not yet determined.

Aroma intensity is weak. The flavour of Marocaine white truffle is similar to that of the Bianchetto white, having the distinctive ethereal sweet aroma reminiscent of acetylene, but mildly nutty and savoury.


speckled white truffle (Tuber maculatum Vittad. 1831)

speckled white truffle

 

SYNONYMS: Tuber suecicum Wittrock 1881, Tuber exiguum R. Hesse 1894, Tuber intermedium Bucholtz 1901, Tuber moravicum Velenovsky 1947

 

DISTRIBUTION: latitude 40°N to 60°N; widespread throughout Europe, but not common in many regions.

HABITAT: up to 500-600m elevation; in calcareous hilly soils and sandy coastal plains, rich in litter and humus, usually to a depth of 1.5-6cm.

HOSTS: cork oak (Quercus suber); European beech (Fagus sylvatica); silver birch (Betula pendula); common hazel (Corylus avellana), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia); white willow (Salix alba), black poplar (Populus nigra) and European linden (Tilia europaea); maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and European spruce (Picea abies).

MATURATION PERIOD: early summer (Jun) to early autumn (Sep)

HARVESTING SEASON: short season within the maturing period from mid-Jun to mid-Sep.

SIZE: usually small 1-2 cm (5-20g), rarely large 7cm (250g)

SHAPE: very compact, globular, sometimes tuberculate (with small nodules) and lobed.

OUTER SKIN: smooth, waxy, pubescent (hairy) when young becoming glabrous (hairless) and shiny when mature; colour when young is yellowish-white to pale yellow becoming grayish or yellowish ochre, usually with reddish-brown spots at maturity.

INNER FLESH: compact, solid and firm; whitish to gray when young, becoming reddish-brown at maturity; marbled with branching whitish veins, many starting from different points of the surface.

FLAVOUR: aroma profile not yet determined.

Aroma intensity is medium. The flavour of speckled white truffle is fairly pleasant, similar to that of Maruzuolo white with weak savoury quality, but is milder, more delicate and not as distinctive. The taste is bitter.

 

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