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Types of Truffle

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

Have you ever heard people getting excited about truffles? Have you tried one and then wondered what all the fuss was about? Well, the reason is because there are many different types of truffle. And there is a huge range: from the Terfez with its pungent aroma, often costing less than a bag of dates to the highly prized truffles of Piedmonte, retailing for around £90 per gram. Even more incredible is that most luxury truffle foods such as truffle oil have never even come into contact with a truffle of any kind. So read on to find out about some of the more common varieties of truffle and what you might expect from them.

What are the different types of truffle?

Black diamonds

Tuber melanosporum is the truffle most highly regarded by the French.

Image courtesy of Ayme truffles

It grows traditionally in the Perigord and Provence regions of France and also in Spain and Italy . It is otherwise known as the black truffle, truffe noire, Perigord truffle, diamond of the dirt, diamond of the kitchen and the black diamond. The black truffle is highly sought after for its earthy aroma. So many diamond references clearly indicate that this is, and always has been, considered treasure. It is black and knobbly on the outside and inside is black with a small percentage of creamy coloured connective tissue.

"It's not just that it's earthy or pungent — to me, it's also primal. It's more than just the flavour, the smell reaches inside you: it's compelling and really grabs you and makes you pay attention whether you like it or not." Ken Frank 2019

White winter truffle

Tuber magnatum pico is held in high regard by the Italians. It grows primarily in the Piedmonte region of Italy, although it can also now be found in Tuscany and Croatia. Otherwise referred to as the Piedmonte truffle or Alba truffle, it is coveted for its combination of garlicky and earthy flavours. It is smooth and creamy white in colour. It has thus far proven impossible to cultivate. Its scarcity possibly accounts for its high price and obsessive enthusiasts.

Image courtesy of Eater

White summer truffle

Tuber borchii, aka marzuili truffle. These summer truffles are harvested in the same areas as the white winter truffle, but during a different season. It has a sweet, garlicky aroma that is enjoyable, but inferior to the white winter truffle due to its subtlety and muskiness. However, it is a wonderful 'starter' truffle as it is more affordable than its winter conterpart. The summer and winter varieties look almost identical except that the summer truffle can take on a darker cream/brown colour as the season progresses.

Winter truffle

Tuber brumale, also known as musky truffle or rougeotte, is a bit of a rogue. It impersonates the Black Diamond very well, being twins in appearance; harvested at the same time of year and growing in almost identical conditions. However, tuber brumale and tuber melanosporum are NOT the same truffle. Tuber brumale can be invasive to tuber melanosporum sites as it is far more readily reproduced - it is a survivor! While they look almost the same, the taste of the tuber melanosporum is better. As the name suggests, the musky truffle tastes rather more musky. How can we tell the difference? The white veins inside the truffle are wider and more thickly spaced in the tuber brumale than in the tuber melanosporum. A more obvious difference is that the peridium (bag around the truffle) of the brumale can be easily peeled off. The brumale or rougeotte can display a reddish colour but only when unripe making it difficult to spot the difference even for real truffinados.

Image courtesy of Tartufazzi

Black summer truffle

Tuber aesvitum, otherwise known as St-Jean truffle. They grow in France, Spain and Italy. From the outside, they resemble the black truffle only with far deeper ridges. On cutting them open, you will see a far paler interior. They are a good flavour, but more subtle than other varieties.