A black truffle, also known as a Calabash, is a small, black, succulent mushroom that grows primarily in Europe, Asia, North America, and the West Indies. Black truffle is usually the fruiting body of an underground ascomycanete fungi, mainly one of the classifications of the genus Tuber. In addition to Tuber, other genera of ascomycete fungi are also classified as black truffles including Geopora, Peziza, Choiromyces, and more than a hundred others. This genus and their close relatives are so closely related that many of their names have become generic titles like the "ash-berry", "peach-berry", or "ash-purple".
The most prominent species in this genus is Geopora Cubeba, which is also known as the Black-Lipped Oyster. Like other members of this genus, Geopora Cubeba has a black lens on its leaves. These leaves are long and thin, about one inch in length and tapering at the tips. The spore measures a mere one millimeter in diameter. The black color of these spores is due to pigments derived from the debris that collects inside when they are blown around in the air. This debris is not related to the plant, but rather dead marine algae that form within and on the gills of clams and mussels.
In the past, the only way to harvest black truffle salt was by boiling them in brine water. Although the procedure is still used today, modern farmers have discovered that dry drying is superior to boiling for maximum shelf-life. There is no longer any need to boil the salt prior to use, therefore, it can be stored for long periods of time and utilized whenever desired. The distinctive taste comes from the inclusion of ferric oxide and manganese oxide, which give black truffles their distinct taste.
The primary ingredient in black truffle salt is the black truffle, which contains around 45 percent iron oxides and iron phosphate. Truffles usually contain manganese oxide, copper oxide, zinc oxide, or sodium nitrate. Other minerals that may be included are magnesium oxide, selenium oxide, and tin oxide. Each of these compounds adds its own special characteristic that enhances the flavor. Because they are a mixture of different minerals, black summer truffles tend to be less salty than their winter counterparts.
Traditionally, the black truffle salt has been used in Italy to season caviar and meat dishes. In recent years, the salts have made their way to America, where they became known as the "truffle of Kings" due to their demand among high-class chefs. American chefs have also discovered the wonderful flavor and unique color of this salty treat. Black truffle oil is widely used in American cooking to complement the rich flavor of beef, turkey, and chicken dishes. Using black truffle salt or black truffle oil for seasoning has long been practiced by chefs from New York City to Los Angeles.
Today, Italian black truffles are used in dozens of traditional Italian meals. They make great additions to pizzas, salads, pasta dishes, and many other favorite dishes. Italian cooks continue to discover the flavor combinations of this versatile salt, which has long been a staple in Italian cuisine. While there are dozens of different recipes for these salty treats, many chefs choose to use this salty seasoning in new and interesting ways in order to inject a little zest into their favorite dishes.
For example, instead of adding just a truffle to a traditional tomato-and-garlic pasta recipe, consider replacing the tomato sauce with a white truffle finishing salt instead. The cheese in this traditional pasta dish may also be replaced with white truffle, and you might even find that the white part of your pasta dish actually makes a good side dish! This would be an easy way to incorporate a bit of this salty treat into your current Italian meals without changing too much of what you already love.
No matter how you make use of Italian black truffle salt, the flavor is sure to draw rave reviews from your family and friends. Best of all, this earthy, salty alternative to many common ingredients is healthy, as well. In fact, studies have shown that it contains trace minerals and nutrients like calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium, which help to improve overall health and wellness. By choosing to include this earthy, sea salt-powered flavor in your cooking, you can also ensure that you are providing your family with a healthier alternative to the store-bought versions. After all, you wouldn't want to give them food that isn't packed full of flavor!