A truffle is a small fruiting structure of an ascomycete subterranean fungus, mostly one of three species in the family Tuberomycota, namely Geophyllia, Tuberculata, or Leucatinium. There are hundreds of other species belonging to this group, the most typical being Geoplantum and Tinospora. Some of these fungi have lost their leaves and grown to the form of mushrooms, but others have retained their spore form and have mushroom-like structures. Truffles have been used by humans for thousands of years as a tasty, crunchy treat, but it was not until the nineteenth century that they became popular in North America.
Fungi of this family are found everywhere: underground, in decaying organic matter, and on tree stumps and other dead plant parts. They reproduce by spores. When the spores germinate, they release a new organism called a mycelium. Mycelia then divide and form a number of layers (tracheoles), which can be differentiated from each other by their shapes, sizes, and colors.
There are two kinds of Ascomycetes Fungi, white and black. Black truffles have a distinctive taste and scent; white truffles are sweeter and less intense. In the United States, both types are available, so you can choose the type that best suits your tastes and your budget.
The black truffle sea salt has a distinct taste, with an earthy, salty, grassy flavor. It is often eaten raw, either on its own, mixed with cream or ice cream, or combined with other foods, such as caviar.
White truffles are sweeter and less intense. Although they have a tangy flavor, the salt in the white variety makes them slightly acidic. White truffles are often blended with other food and then drizzled with a lemon mixture or cream. Some people enjoy them as a salad topping or used as a garnish with white wine, but they are not as good as they are often perceived to be in Italy. Some prefer to sprinkle the truffles with honey, olive oil, salt, or a combination of herbs like basil or mint.
In addition, there are several varieties of truffles available. All are good for adding to salads or using them in a variety of other recipes. You can find truffles in baguettes, cakes, cookies, muffins, spreads, pasta dishes, pasta salad dressings, and soups. Some of these items can be eaten cold, while others are best enjoyed chilled.
Traditionally, the best use of truffles is in salted salami. They are often garnished with oregano, parsley, mint, or thyme. A little fresh oregano adds a touch of freshness and pizazz to the dish and leaves on top of the dish help protect the flavor.
Although many varieties of Ascomycetes Fungi are used for medicinal purposes, only a few are actually edible. One variety, Geotrichum rhizome, is used for its antifungal property. Other varieties, such as Geophilus and Geolocosporium, are used to prevent and cure yeast infections in people with a compromised immune system. Some have even been used to treat and cure HIV/AIDS.
There are also some other types of Ascomycetes, such as those that cause allergic reactions, such as the allergenic aspergillum and crocodylii. However, the most commonly used varieties, Geotrichum and Geophilus, do not generally cause allergic reactions, so this group is rarely eaten as food. If you are allergic to Ascomycetes, look for an alternative source of protein, like cheese, yogurt, eggs, or liver. In addition, you can use baking soda, lemon juice, white sugar, or egg yolk to prepare a substitute that is safe for those allergic to Ascomycetes.
Some people may find that Ascomycetes irritate their skin or mouth, although most people tolerate them quite well. Even so, if you are sensitive, avoid eating them if you have a headache, toothache, or any other problems with your mouth. These fungi are also sometimes used in skin ointments or mouth rinses.
For a treat, you can always mix some truffle salt with lemon juice and orange juice to make a refreshing drink. This is often called a "trifle".
You can also add some salt to a glass of water or orange juice and stir it into a glass of water, along with some mint leaves or fresh basil. When drinking this concoction, the salt will help to soften the taste of the other ingredients and helps to mask the taste of the other ingredients. If you enjoy drinking tea, try adding a slice of lemon on top and drinking it over a glass of iced tea or hot chocolate.