A truffle, also known as a black or blue button mushroom, is a mushroom that has been cultivated since ancient times. A common truffle is the fruzing, perishing body of an ascomycete (subterranean ascomycetes), primarily one of the species of the genus Tuber.
Other than Tuber, there are many different types of mushrooms classified as truffles, including Geopora and Peziza. Geopora is a member of the Ascomycota suborder. Its cap has a thin layer of brownish powder but is otherwise very similar to Tubers.
Tuber is a member of the Ascomycota suborder, as are Geopora and Peziza. Geopora has a grayish gray cap with a whitish stem. The underside of the cap has a brownish or tannish colored stem. It has a white throat, a whitish collar, and yellowish hairs on the gills.
Peziza has a cream to the cream-colored cap, a grayish gray stem, and dark hairs on the cap. There are no hairs on the cap of Geopora. Some mushrooms have very tiny spores and cannot be used for truffling purposes.
Ascomycetes do not need oxygen for their growth. This characteristic allows them to thrive in almost any soil type, though they are particularly prolific under rocks, gravels, and other porous soils. Their spores are large enough to float freely in the air and are easily lost if they come in contact with other organisms such as bacteria or fungi. In fact, fungi can help to decompose them by breaking down the solids that contain them.
Fungi can also cause allergic reactions to some foods and spices, so it is essential to be aware of any potential sources of allergies when preparing these dishes if you are prone to allergic reactions. Avoiding these foods will keep you from having any negative reactions while cooking.
For the best results, buy or make your own black truffle salt. The process is relatively easy and all it takes is a small amount of dried or fresh mushrooms, a bit of sunflower oil, some lemon juice, olive oil, a pinch of Cayenne pepper, some cloves, salt, a couple of leaves, some basil, and black truffle salt. The salt helps draw out the nutrients from the mushrooms, while the lemon juice protects the mushrooms against oxidation and aids in the preservation of flavors.
To make your own salt, cut the stems, and slice the mushrooms into fine slices. You may want to leave some stems on at the top, but that is OK. Heat the olive oil and garlic together in a saucepan over low heat for a few minutes to soften them, then add the mushrooms and cover them tightly. Let them sit until they are soft, about fifteen minutes, then remove them and place them in a salad bowl.
When you are ready to use your prepared truffle salt, add it to the dish where the mushrooms are placed and mix it with the black truffle salt for approximately two minutes until the mushrooms become soft and moistened. Spread a little more oil around the mushrooms to seal the pores of the mushrooms and sprinkle on some oregano and basil leaves for a nice garnish.
Using a fork, carefully lift up the dish and spread it out in a thin layer on the top of the plate. Lay the mushrooms on top and cover the dish loosely with plastic wrap in an upright position. Place in a warm place and allow to sit for about twenty minutes before removing it and placing it on a burner or stove.
Don't let this sit for too long though, or you risk burning the mushrooms, as this can damage the flavor and color, keep cooking. You can keep adding the mushrooms to the dish until the taste and texture have reached their peak, about another fifteen minutes. If you want to prepare the dish with the mushrooms still on top, remove them and place them in the refrigerator. Just cover the pan with plastic wrap and store the dish in the refrigerator until the next time you are ready to serve it.
Once the dish has cooled, it can be served just as it is, with no truffle salt. Or, you can serve the mushrooms on their own as a part of a recipe. Some people like to season the dish with a little olive oil and some herbs to enhance the flavor. Other recipes require the mushrooms to be sliced into slabs for serving. Other variations may call for the meat to be cooked along with the mushrooms.