These are literally worth more than their weight in gold. Haute cuisine chefs and restaurants swear this is the only way to enjoy the full flavor and the whole experience of gourmet truffles. But remember, they typically have a much bigger budget, so don’t despair if you can’t afford this luxury. Fresh truffles have to get to the consumer within days of harvesting, since they go bad and rot extremely quickly. This is why the price of fresh truffles is almost mind-boggling. Once they are harvested, they need to be delicately handles and shipped as soon as possible. Prime winter black truffles will run you anywhere from $700 to $3000 dollars a pound, depending on availability and type. This is also a seasonal product, so you have to keep that in mind when shopping for fresh truffles.
If you do decide to invest, remember that this is a highly perishable product, and it will need to be used almost as soon as you get it (don’t buy it Monday if your dinner party is on Friday or Saturday). Always try to use them the same day you receive them, or within three days at the very most (read on for storage directions). Look for truffles that are firm, and smooth; softness might indicate inner rot or worms.
Storage and PreparationThere are many different ways to preserve fresh truffles, depending on your needs, the kind of truffle, or you level of culinary expertise. These are the basic, most common methods to store and preserve fresh truffles; unless you are a truffle expert, I do not recommend trying to preserve fresh truffles yourself, or use butter, oil, wine, or fat, since novice truffle-philles might end up with a very expensive mushroom paste.
Bottom LineWith fresh truffles, stick to the basics, and always remember: less is more.
If NOT Cleaned and will be used immediatelyGently wash them with water and brush (best if with a vegetable brush, clean toothbrush or nail brush), and lightly pat dry with a paper towel.
If NOT Cleaned, and will NOT be used immediately
- Do not wash or brush until the day of use
- To delay their ripening wrap in an absorbent paper towel or cloth, and store in the back or vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. Change the paper once a day.
- Alternatively, store in a jar of rice to absorb moisture and keep dry (plus the rice will absorb the truffle aroma and flavor, and will make a great risotto later).
If Previously Cleaned
- Roll separately in an absorbent paper towel, paper bag, or absorbent cloth. Alternatively, store inside a jar or bag of rice. Change the paper towel every day, to absorb any moisture that may cause rot.
- Store in the back of the refrigerator or the vegetable drawer.