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The Perigord Black truffle is roughly rounded, its shape's definition molded by stones in the soil where it has grown. Perigord truffle's surface coloring ranges from dark brown to black. The truffle's skin is textured with polygonal, slightly raised spines. The flesh is jet black at maturity with white veins creating intricate patterns throughout. What truly defines the Perigord truffle is its intoxicating aroma and flavor. The aroma is robust, perfumed with essences of nuts, earth and garlic. The flavor is equally rich, a bouquet of savory and sweet with notes of hazelnuts, mint and forest mushrooms.
Perigord truffles are available during winter months.
Perigord truffle, AKA Black Diamond, Tuber melanosporum, is named for its original growing region within Provence, France. All truffles are a part of a taxonomic group, classified as Ascomycetes, thus they are not actually mushrooms. In 1981, German researchers reported that they had isolated the source of the truffle's sensual allure: androstenol, a hormone released by truffles to lure animals in to detect it and eat it.
Perigord truffles are intensely flavored, thus they can be cooked briefly or low and slow. They can be shaved fresh as a finishing element or infused into sauces to add depth. The volatile compounds that release truffles' distinct aroma are compromised when overcooked, but fats can capture and encapsulate those aromas. Classic pairings are rich foods such as meat, cheese and eggs. Perigord truffles compliment lobster, caviar, fois gras, pasta, cream sauces, garlic, shallots, mascarpone, aged hard cheeses, citrus and herbs such as tarragon, basil and arugula. Fresh Perigord truffles can be folded into butter to create a compound, which can be refrigerated for up to three months. As truffles are a living fruiting body they need to breath and sweat. They can lose up to 3% of their weight daily. Hence, they are best used within three days of harvest. Truffles will keep, though, stored in rice and tightly sealed, for seven to ten days.
The Perigord black truffle grows naturally and except for their trademark fragrance, undetected under the soil's surface in open woodlands, characterized by the absence of plant life under the trees. Theses bare areas, signifying the presence of truffles are called terre brule (burned ground). The optimum conditions for establishing a black truffle truffière (truffle plantation) are warm summers and cool winters, naturally acidic soils, irrigation water and the absence of other trees that may have competing fungi on their roots. National and local laws define official harvesting times, regulate permits for truffle cultivation and licenses to own truffieres. Perigord truffles are harvested by truffle hunters and their dogs. No breed of dog instinctively seeks out truffles, rather dogs are trained to skillfully indicate the truffles' aroma. This method of truffle hunting has been employed since the 18th Century.