How to preserve a fresh truffle
If you are buying a fresh white truffle for the first time it can be rather imposing. This is entirely understandable as tuber magnatum pico are one of the most expensive ingredients on the market and they have a notoriously brief shelf life. Here are some tips to help you deal calmly and efficiently with a fresh truffle purchase.
1. The longer truffles are exposed to air, the quicker their aroma fades
From the second the truffle is unearthed it begins to lose its scent. Truffles are at their peak until they are around three days old, by day six they are nowhere near as aromatic as they should be. There are several ways to keep the truffle close to peak condition by limiting unnecessary exposure to air. Keep the truffle wrapped up in cloth or paper and place it in an airtight container. Don’t leave it out on the kitchen counter or sitting naked on the shelf of the fridge..
When possible we store white truffles on their own in the fridge as any other food will quickly absorb the truffle’s aroma. Everything in your fridge will become ‘contaminated’.Many people like to take advantage of this by storing their truffles with eggs or rice which quickly become infused with the truffle scent. There is no problem with eggs but it’s not a great idea to store truffles with rice. Of course your risotto will taste sublime, however storing a white truffle in a bag of rice draws out its moisture and causes the truffle to dry out more quickly. This means the truffle loses its freshness even more rapidly.
2. Using the truffle as quickly as possible is your best course of action.
Don’t leave your truffle hanging around while you wait for the right occasion to use it. Truffles are meant to be consumed fresh so once you receive yours, you should aim to eat within three days maximum.
3. Clean the truffle immediately before you serve it. Not before.
Of course you should ensure the truffle is perfectly clean before you shave it over your dish. However don’t even think about washing it until you are ready to serve it. There are two reasons for this
- retaining a very thin layer of earth protects the truffle’s flavour helping to retard the loss of scent.
- Truffles prefer to be kept dry. Never soak them for long periods as this,once more, will affect the precious aroma of tuber magnatum pico.
Now when you are just about ready to use the truffle, you can wash it under cold running water and use a soft-bristled brush or a gentle cloth to clean it.
4. Short Term Storage. Truffles should never be frozen unless you like the taste and texture of cardboard. If you would like to savor your fresh truffle over several days then it is best to chill it carefully in the fridge wrapped up and placed in a sealed container or jar. At home if the truffle is especially dirty we use a toothbrush to clean off any remnants of earth. However these are truffles that we have dug out of the ground ourselves.White truffles you find on the market should not have chunks of soil attached to them. If they are very dirty (check the crevices) please complain to the rogue who is trying to charge you upwards of £2 per gram of common dirt. There are charlatans in every business and this is a well-known ruse.
The best temperature to store truffles at is 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit) in a cool, dry spot in the fridge. As the white truffle loses moisture on the road to its inevitable decline, this tissue paper or cloth wrapping will become slightly damp. Make sure that it is changed at least once a day since a build-up of moisture once again will affect the quality of your beautiful truffle.
5. Other Options.
Truffle salt/zest is very popular these days thanks to Oprah Winfrey. I don’t know how to make this so I’d love to hear from anyone who does! Probably the most popular way to preserve white truffles is to make your own truffle butter. We usually mix a generous amount of truffle shavings into some really good quality butter and fill small jars or pots with this butter/truffle mixture. These pots can be stored in the fridge for about a month and plastic pots can even be frozen (supposedly for 3 months, but I’ve eaten 18-month-old frozen truffle butter and lived to recount the story) This is a great way to enjoy the taste of white truffles all year round. There are many ways to serve truffle butter – it is best to keep it simple, so over some free-range scrambled eggs, fresh pasta or shaved on top of your steak.
So as you can see, it’s fairly easy to handle a white truffle and there’s no need to be nervous as long as you have access to a fridge, a jar and some soft kitchen paper. Please, if you have any truffle-related queries please write them in the comments below. I would love to hear them and I’m sure that one of us will be able to answer them. Buon appetito!