Black truffle, white truffle: what are the differences ?
A coveted object and a symbol of fine gastronomy throughout the world, the truffle is undoubtedly a queen in the kingdom of mushrooms. There are more than a hundred species, some of which have been the subject of relentless quests since antiquity. In order to bear fruit, the truffle enters into symbiosis with the tree: in a few words, the mycelium of the mushroom merges with the roots of the tree, which allows the two organisms to exchange nutrients that are favourable to their respective development. This phenomenon is called mycorrhiza.
In common parlance, we distinguish between black and white truffles, often without knowing what really separates them. If you are wondering about the differences between black and white truffles, you may be surprised to learn that the truffle industry does not think in terms of black or white truffles but in terms of truffle varieties. This subtlety is explained by the fact that there are several edible varieties of black truffles and several varieties of white truffles: each of these species, whatever its colour, has its own particularities which distinguish it significantly from other species of the same colour.
Of the large number of truffle species that exist, only 6 are available on the market, one of which is extremely rare and sought after.
The Périgord black truffle
With its scientific name tuber melanosporum, the Périgord black truffle is dark brown in colour and represents 83% of French truffle production. Contrary to its name, this gastronomic truffle species can be found in several regions of south-eastern France, but also in Spain, Italy and even Croatia. It bears fruit on calcareous soils in warm climates and matures between November and March. Highly sought after for its powerful flavours, it is generally used in foie gras, pasta or risotto, ideally grated.
La truffe musquée
Nestled in the same regions and harvested at the same time as its cousin tuber melanosporum, the musk truffle (tuber brumale) is considered a noble black truffle. The musk truffle and the Périgord black truffle are the only two truffles that can be called "truffled" on a product. It is known, as its name indicates, for its very intense perfume and its notes of undergrowth which go wonderfully with winter dishes.
The Lorraine truffle
The Lorraine truffle, or tuber mesentricum, is a variety highly prized by gourmets. Its shape and veined flesh are reminiscent of the Burgundy truffle. The Lorraine truffle takes up residence in the Meuse, where it benefits from the department's continental climate and lush forests. The early arrival of winter allows this mushroom to reach maturity relatively early compared to other species, since it is generally harvested between mid-September and the end of December. Its full-bodied liquorice flavour and slight bitterness make it particularly interesting with fresh fish and shellfish and it is a good addition to truffle butter or cheese.
The Italian white truffle
The Italian white truffle, or Alba truffle (tuber magnatum pico), is the most coveted and rarest of all truffle species. According to specialists, its deep and intoxicating taste is even incomparable to that of its congeners. The lucky ones who have the opportunity to taste it can find it in a risotto recipe or in olive oil, always in its raw state in which it reveals all its qualities.
It can be found from September to December in the border region of Piedmont, where it is harvested and sold at a premium. The price per kilo is estimated at between €5000 and €7000. In 2018, at an auction in Alba, a white truffle weighing 850 grams was sold for €85,000, or €100 per gram.
The white summer truffle
The white summer truffle or Mayenque truffle (tuber aestivum) can be found in many areas of France and Italy. Less expensive than the other species, it can be bought for about 250 € / kg. Its taste is less pronounced than that of other truffles, revealing notes of roe, hazelnut and wild mushroom. It is distinguished from its congeners by its fruiting period between June and September, hence its nickname of summer truffle. Although the tuber aestivum is less prized than the Italian white truffle or the Périgord black truffle, it remains a refined and tasty product that enhances many culinary preparations in its producing regions.
The Burgundy Truffle
If it proudly bears the nickname of "black diamond", the Burgundy or Champagne truffle is born in the lands from the Côte d'Or to the Ardennes and is the most widespread truffle species in Europe. It matures from mid-September to the end of January, the ideal time to harvest it - or caver - to enjoy its subtle dried fruit aromas. In the kitchen, it goes well with purées, omelettes and white meats. It is in symbiosis with oak, hazelnut, pine, beech and hornbeam trees, and adapts to temperate climates as long as the soil is chalky.
As you will have understood, the truffle is a complex and coveted mushroom that has been a source of passion for thousands of years. Through its truffle creations, the Fauchon house intends to honour this exceptional product within refined and tasty combinations.