If you’re a black truffle lover, or Tuber Melanosporum aficionado, and you’re familiar with dealing with them, then you won’t have any trouble identifying whether it’s in-season or not. However, if you’re just getting started and diving into the subject, we have a couple of tips to ensure you don’t get fooled with out-of-season black truffles.
Firstly, the black winter truffle season (or Tuber Melanosporum) runs from November to late March (the final month may be shorter or longer depending on the climate conditions in a given year). So, trying to acquire it in the height of summer (for example) might be a mistake.
Secondly, black truffles maintain their quality when you can distinctly perceive their aroma; it should be quite strong and reminiscent of the earth (this is directly related to how well they’ve attached to the roots, which is why they are so aromatic). However, truffles should never smell like ammonia, garlic, vinegar, or any similar odor. If you detect any of these mentioned odors, it means they were harvested some time ago or haven’t been properly stored.
Texture and Veining
Texture is also an important aspect to determine if black truffles are in-season or not. If the black truffle is hard (usually smooth), it indicates that it’s fresh. On the other hand, if it’s soft, it’s best not to consume it. It’s worth noting that their shape and roughness are not indicators of quality, so don’t be alarmed if they aren’t uniform in size and shape.
If you’re still unsure about whether the truffle you’ve purchased is edible, there’s one definitive argument: the veining. While black truffles are dark on the outside, they have irregular white lines inside, resembling veins. As the truffle matures, these lines darken. So, if when you cut it open, it looks overly black, that’s an indicator of an overripe truffle. A truffle in optimal condition will have very light veining (as seen in the attached image).
We hope that these tips help you identify a perfectly ripe black winter truffle and prevent you from being deceived.