The main species
The determination of the different species of truffles is essentially based on morphological characters such as shape, size, color, ornamentation of the peridium, appearance of the gleba, aroma and flavor.
The determination of the species in the laboratory takes place through the recognition of the spores or with biomolecular analysis techniques.
In the world the species of mushrooms currently classified as Tuber are about 63, in Italy there are 25, but only 9 are considered edible and 6 are the most commonly marketed:
- Tuber Magnatum Pico (White Truffle from Alba or Acqualagna or White Precious)
- Tuber Melanosporum Vitt. (Black Truffle of Norcia or Precious Black)
- Tuber Aestivum Vitt. (Scorzone)
- Tuber Borchii Vitt. (Bianchetto or Marzuolo Truffle)
- Tuber Brumale Vitt. (Winter Truffle)
- Tuber Macrosporum Vitt. (Smooth Black Truffle)
White Truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico)
The White Truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico) is considered the truffle par excellence because it is of considerable commercial importance.
It has a globular appearance, with numerous depressions on the peridium which make it irregular. The external surface is smooth and slightly velvety. The color varies from pale ocher to dark cream to greenish. Its flesh is unmistakable and is white and greyish yellow with thin white veins. Its pleasantly aromatic scent, but different from the garlic of other truffles, makes it unique in its kind. It lives in symbiosis with oaks, limes, poplars and willows and is rarely found in conjunction with other truffles. The White Truffle, to be born and develop, needs particular soils with equally particular climatic conditions: The soil must be soft and humid for most of the year, it must be rich in calcium and with good air circulation. The harvest is from September to December.
Tartufo Nero Pregiato (Tuber Melanosporum Vitt.)
The Black Truffle (Tuber Melanosporum Vitt.) has a fairly homogeneous and rounded appearance with polygonal warts. The blackish brown color of the surface takes on rust-colored shades when rubbed. The flesh is clear, its aroma is intense, aromatic and fruity.
It grows in hilly and mountainous areas in symbiosis with hazel, oak and English oak. After the White Truffle, it is considered the most commercially valuable and is one of the protagonists of international cuisine. The harvest period is from December to March.
Black Summer Truffle or Scorzone (Tuber Aestivum Vitt.)
The Black Summer Truffle or Scorzone (Tuber Aestivum Vitt.) Sometimes reaches considerable size and is very similar to the Black Truffle. The external surface is presented with brown pyramidal warts. It has an intense aromatic smell, but when cut it is distinguished from the Nero Pregiato one, because the gleba does not become dark, but tends to a dark yellow. It grows in both sandy and clayey soils, in deciduous forests but also in pine forests.
It is very popular and is used for the production of sausages and sauces. The harvest period is from May to December.
Bianchetto or Marzuolo truffle (Tuber Borchii Vitt. Or Tuber Albidum Pico)
The Bianchetto or Marzuolo Truffle (Tuber Borchii Vitt.) Is a highly sought-after truffle in the areas of Tuscany, Romagna and Marche. Outwardly it can be confused with Tuber Magnatum, because originally it has the same characteristics, irregular, smooth and off-white in color but when it reaches maturity, it becomes darker. Even the gleba from initially light becomes dark. The smell is the characteristic that distinguishes it from the White Truffle because, if at the beginning it is tenuous and pleasant, in a second time it becomes garlicky and nauseating. It grows in calcareous soils, often in deciduous and coniferous forests. The harvest period is from January to March.
Black Winter or Brumale Truffle (Tuber Brumale Vitt.)
The Black Winter or Brumale Truffle (Tuber Brumale Vitt.) Is often confused with the Precious Black Truffle because it shares the same habitat and the same type of symbiont plants. It has a slightly warty surface and a brownish black color. Inside the flesh darkens highlighting the white veins. It smells of nutmeg and grows in winter under hardwoods in temperate climates. Commercially its value is halved compared to the fine black.