A hidden treasure yet to be discovered in the kitchen. The autumn truffle (Tuber uncinatum) has begun to have visibility between the aromatic strength of the winter and the summer.
It was not so long ago that the winter truffle (Tuber melanosporum) began to be known and valued. More recently, there has been talk of the summer truffle (Tuber aestivum), which is not as aromatic as the first and, of course, is far from raising the passions of a good melanosporum.
These are the two truffles that are mainly distinguished and used professionally and in the home. The prohibitive Italian white truffle and a few varieties that are collected in France are also known to exist, but in general, the accessible universe around these mushrooms is practically reduced to those of summer and winter.
However, recently it has burst in and there has been talk of a new variety, an ‘intruder’, the Tuber uncinatum, also called gray truffle, from Burgundy, or, depending on the time of its harvest, in autumn. Like the summer one, it is mostly of wild origin, and so far very little attention had been paid to it, especially when it came to considering its commercialization in a more or less serious way. The same does not happen in European countries such as France and Italy, where it is quite appreciated, both for consumption fresh and preserved or through derived products.
In Aragon, Trinidad Usón has been marketing it for two years through the company Foresta Algairén. It recognizes that it has a greater presence in Catalonia and Valencia, but in its desire to seasonally adjust the consumption of the different varieties of truffles, it is convinced that the autumn variety offers a magnificent opportunity. “I think it can be a good engine for rural development – he says – and it must be taken into account that melanosporum is collected in the coldest months of the year, with the difficulties that this entails when planning tourist activities or outings to the countryside”. However, putting forward this type of proposal during the months of September or October would be much more feasible.
Fall truffle shortage
The development of any type of truffle is by no means an exact science. It is the expression Trinidad uses to explain that so far this autumn “very little has been harvested, probably due to the scarce rains in the first months of the year and, in general, due to the heat, which is very bad for all varieties. “.
As his presence is being testimonial, he has barely gone out into the field and the one who has suffered the most has been Zarza, his truffle dog. Trinidad came with her to the photo session at the Gamberro restaurant, whose chef, Franchesko Vera, has prepared a delicious recipe with this product: quail with creamy pumpkin and Tuber uncinatum.
Zarza is a cross between a labrador retriever “and another very large dog,” says Trinidad. He found her abandoned on the road when she still had baby teeth. He welcomed her first and then saw the possibility of developing his truffle nose, a potential that in a year, with a lot of training, he has successfully completed.
Bramble and a good knife to collect truffles are the only ‘tools’ that this expert has to discover the uncinatum. “With the last rains, it is possible that until the end of November and the first weeks of December a lot more will be collected.” For Trinidad, the one caught now is better than early season tuber melanosporum, which is not yet mature. “Many times it is taken out without being in the best conditions because there is a desire to enjoy it, but it is a mistake,” she explains.
Similarities between truffles
When referring to its properties, she assures that it is very similar to that of summer, an ecotype of it, that is to say, “practically the same but with such minimal variations that one could not speak of a different species”. Of course, the autumn one develops in colder areas, with more height and humidity than the Tuber aestevium.
“Its color is between black and greyish on the outside – he continues – and inside it ranges from light yellow to various shades of brown; the aroma is more powerful than that of summer, but does not reach the potency of Tuber melanosporum “. As for its price, it is much closer to that of the first, that is, it is well below the winter price, so this data is also interesting.
In any case, Trinidad Usón, like most truffles, insists that “you don’t have to think about what a kilo is worth because nobody buys this amount; for a magnificent 20-gram black truffle we are going to pay less than 20 euros and with her, at a dinner with friends, you can truffle lots of eggs and enjoy a real delicacy for very little money “.
The autumn truffle in the recipe book
Precisely, a recipe for broken eggs with ham and Tuber aestivum is the one that Alberto Báguena has prepared at the El Arco de Paniza bar. This establishment, whose fame began to spread like wildfire when its anchovy specialties became known, little by little has been incorporating more culinary arguments and the preparation of these eggs is also very interesting.
For Alberto, there are not many differences between summer and autumn truffles. “The latter is a little more aromatic – he assures -, but, of course, nothing to do with the winter one; the first two only contribute something gastronomically if they are worked fresh, since as soon as you handle them a little their aromas disappear However, you can do a lot more with melanosporum. ”
What Franchesko Vera likes most about our protagonist is “her timelessness”. “Being able to use a fresh truffle in autumn seems like a great opportunity to me; for me it is like a training in what I will be able to do when the real good one arrives”, he affirms.
And how it works. Well, in many ways. Jokingly, the chef of the Gamberro restaurant assures that Trinidad Usón asked him to marry him “the day he tasted the chocolate ice cream that he had prepared with the Tuber uncinatum.” In the recipe that appears on these pages she has incorporated it into the pumpkin cream, “grated and taking into account that the temperature cannot exceed 65 degrees, because from there it loses all its properties”.
In risottos, with vegetables, infusing it to flavor different dishes and, in general, around those products and preparations that have a fatty support. Anyway, it fits in many places. In addition, the owner of Gamberro explains that “it withstands the passage of time well, although, yes, it has to be perfectly clean; you just have to put it in the refrigerator with a plastic tuperware and put it inside wrapped in absorbent paper that is changed every two days”.
Source: El Heraldo de Aragón, by Alejandro Toquero