WhiteTruffle truffle is mainly found in Piedmont area

WhiteTruffle (tubar magnatum pico)A  truffle is an edible fungus found growing underground within the roots of trees such as beech, hazel and oak. Due to their distinctive taste and aroma truffles are considered a culinary delicacy. Often grated or sliced raw onto dishes such as pasta, eggs and cauliflower.One of the most well known truffles is the tuber magnatum pico. Often known as the “Piedmont Truffle” or the “White Truffle from Alba” as it is most commonly found in the piedmont region in Italy. This white truffle has a smooth pale cream exterior and a beige interior with cream veins throughout. It tastes slightly garlicky flavour with an earthy musky aroma. Truffles are highly perishable with a shelf life of around 5 days. The white truffle season is very short, from October to December. (Truffle Master, 2018). Therefore availability is limited which makes them expensive. Truffle hunters with the help of female pigs or specially trained dogs seek them out by their pungent smell which indicates they are ready to harvested. Dogs are the preferred method nowadays as pigs tend to eat any truffles they find. The word truffle comes from the Latin word tuber, meaning “hump or swelling “, which later became tufer and then truffle. (Oxford Dictionary, 2018).During the 20th century, white truffles had become more widely known and Piedmont has become very famous for its Truffles. The largest Tuber magnatum pico found in central Italy weighed 1,786g It was sold at auction on 4th December 2014 for £39,154. (Guiness Book of Records, 2014).Brexit could have an effect on Italian truffle imports to UK if no trade deal is made. The cost of the expensive white truffles could rise further forcing restaurateurs to switch to more affordable British black truffles.Another factor affecting the truffle production is the wine industry. Piedmont produces some of Italy’s finest wines. In order to plant new vines, precious truffle orchards have been cleared.  The precious plantations need to be saved as It can take ten years for new areas to produce truffles if any.  Despite being a low maintenance crop very unpredictable.  The white truffle is mainly found in Piedmont area of northern Italy and in the Motovan forest in Croatia. They will only grow when the warm summers, cold winters and the pH, moisture and mineral levels of the soil are perfect. Climate change plays a major role in endangering white truffles. Factors such last summer’s droughts, early spring and unusually warm winters can affect growth. Too much rain causes flooding which can also be disastrous. (Squires N, 2017)There are many Italian truffle farms who supply UK based truffle specialists. Many have deliveries flown over regularly which are distributed by express courier to their customers. Some are sent by air from Italy direct to the customer. Wiltshire Truffles has a supplier in the city of Modena in Italy who has been a trusted friend for many years.  They send out  truffle hunters daily and send the best quality truffles to the UK same day to ensure freshness. (Wiltshire Truffles, 2018)Adam Handling chef/owner of The Frog restaurant, London deals with Wiltshire truffles direct and uses fresh truffles that are delivered by hand each day. Whole truffles can be heat treated in a pressure cooker to ensure all bacteria is destroyed.  The product will keep in perfect condition for years until opened. Others are simply soaked, washed and brushed gently. Unsold smaller pieces go into truffle oils, butter and salt which can prolong their shelf life. Preserving a truffle in oil preserves it for 3 months. Truffle butter is another way of preserving the flavour and aroma by using small pieces of fresh or freeze dried truffle that would normally go unsold. Or by placing whole or sliced fresh truffle in salt can preserve it and the salt can be used to add truffle flavour to any dish. After harvesting they are washed, dried, inspected, graded and packaged and sent to their destination within 24 hours. Some companies vac pac or wrap them in paper. They are then placed in isothermal boxes with cold gel packs to keep a consistent low temperature. Truffles should be unwrapped immediately after delivery then wrapped in fresh absorbent paper and placed in an airtight container and stored in the fridge. Monitored for changes daily and stored for no longer than 7 days. Truffles are 80% water  so the longer they are exposed to air the quicker they will reduce in size and loose aroma. They reach their peak ripeness within a few days of being harvested. If it is too humid this can lead to bacteria and mould growth. If mould grows simply wipe to remove. If truffle show signs of sweating they should not be consumed.Truffles have three grades. Extra grade are the highest quality and should weigh 20g or more. They should have a round shape and no signs of pest damage. Acceptable defects include slight surface deterioration, blemishes and defects to shape and colour as long as the truffle quality is not affected.Grade 1 are truffles of good quality weighing at least 10g. Slight shape defects, surface bruising and pests damage is allowable if quality and appearance is not affected. Grade 2 truffles include those not in other categories providing they weigh at least 10g. Truffles are best chosen with eyes closed. Smell is more important than look. Squeezing them gently, they should feel firm, the softer the truffle the older it is. When comparing truffles the same size the heavier is freshest as this contains more water.

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