Black truffles are one of those delicious yet mysterious fungi that give food a delightful color. The black coloring can also make it hard to identify, but if you know what to look for, you can get an exquisite taste from black truffles.
A truffle (or more specifically a fungus called Tuberculinum) is a fruiting body on the underground surface of a subterranean aspergillus fungus, usually one of several species of this genus. Tuberculinum, along with Geopora and Peziza, is the most common fungi used in making truffles. Besides Tuberculinum, there are many other genera of fungus found as truffles, including Geopora, Leucangium, Choiromyces, and many others. Most are not edible and most of them grow in dark, moist environments. They can grow in damp or wet soil, although some can grow in a variety of soil types.
There are two distinct groups of black truffle sea salt. The first group of truffles, called Black Truffles, contains the species Tuberculinum. The second group, known as White Truffles, contains the species Geopora and Peziza. Tuberculinum cannot be found in its natural state. It must be introduced into the soil, either by spores or through an inoculum.
Tuberculinum is actually a fungal form of sulfur. It is a member of a class of fungi called Aspergillomataceae, which include more than 80 genera. When spores are introduced into the soil, they turn black. Over time, the spores become a light brown color. As a result, Tuberculinum is very dark green when found in nature and a white shade when growing in a culture.
All members of Aspergillomataceae belong to the class Pterygophyta. A few Aspergillomataceae fungi are not pterophytes, which are similar to mushrooms but grow without a cap. A few are pectinophytes, which have a thin cork-like veil and a cap. The fungus Tuberculinum belongs to the Aspergillomataceae order.
A large number of Aspergillomataceae fungi grow as a blackish grayish mold, known as Tuberculinum. This mold can also grow on wood, but its favorite environment is on the wood of submerged trees, logs, stumps, etc. The fungi commonly grow in decayed wood and decaying materials. The mold reproduces itself by using hyphae that adhere to and cling to these rotting substances. These hyphae are long filaments that extend into the woods. The fungi multiply by division and then shoot forth into new growth.
Although black truffles do not contain any sugar, they are commonly used as a sweetener in cooking and as a flavor ingredient in other foods, such as ice cream, candies, and sausages. Many people enjoy eating them raw, but others enjoy eating them with black truffle salt.
Because Tuberculinum is considered to belong to the Aspergillomataceae family, there are about a hundred species of these fungi in North America. Most of them grow as spores in moist decaying materials. Some of these species are so small that they are not visible with the naked eye and they grow only under the bark or surface of trees and wood.
Some Aspergillomataceae fungi are sensitive to sunlight and must be kept in dark locations to protect them from excessive heat, cold, dust, or moisture. Many of them live under the bark of trees and wood of submerged logs, and some grow in the roots of some plants. They are very adaptable to damp conditions and thrive on a variety of conditions. They are frequently found in nature in leaf litter, bark, leaves, and stems of trees.
Some of the Aspergillomataceae fungi are very slow-growing and some are much faster growing. Because some species are very slow-growing, they are not often found growing in the wild. When they are found growing in wood or under the bark, they often die out due to environmental changes. Black truffles are among the fast-growing species and they are a valuable resource to mushroom growers because they reproduce quickly and have a high quality of growth and quality.
Because Tuberculinum grows as spores in damp conditions and not on wood, it should be kept in an area where it can survive temperature fluctuations and moisture, as it has been found growing in moist areas for centuries. Some species of this Aspergillomataceae fungi require direct exposure to sunlight for growth, especially when growing in the forest.
Since Aspergillomataceae fungi are very slow-growing, a great many Aspergillomataceae fungi must be introduced into a moist environment in order to produce mushrooms of reasonable quality. It is necessary to use mushroom spores to keep the fungus in a growing condition and to prevent it from falling out of a growing condition. Tuberculinum requires a moist environment in order to grow properly. It is not easy to grow this type of fungi in a closed environment.