Preserved gourmet truffles take about 60% of the total world’s market share of truffles, as they are the best way to obtain truffles while not in season. Look for premier cuisson or “first cooking” or “first boiling” truffles. Truffles are preserved in cans and jars, which provides the customer with a bigger window and more alternative for using truffles. Typically, First Choice (smaller, berry-size) truffles will be heated with a little water or boiled in brine (a salty solution) and hermetically sealed in a sterilized jar. Another popular preserving method for gourmet truffles is storing them in oil.
Although very rarely sold, you might stumble upon truffles preserved with the “second boiling”, which means that the juice is extracted –more often than not to be sold separately- by cooking or boiling the truffle twice. The flavor and aroma will be greatly diminished- but so will the price.
The truffles have the advantage of having a longer shelf life, typically from 1 to 2 years, and the flavor and aromas are well preserved, although perhaps not as pronounced as fresh truffles. They are many different varieties of preserved truffles: some are whole, cleaned (or not) or brushed, while others are already peeled, cleaned, brushed, and sliced (which means less work for you.
One of the many advantages of preserved truffles is that you can always enjoy this delicacy, even out of season, and you don’t have to rush to use them. They are very versatile, and you can get two products in one, as the juice or oil in which they are preserved can be utilized as well to flavor soups, broths and sauces. Yes, everybody would love to get fresh gourmet truffles, but this is your best bet, especially if you’re just delving into the world of truffles. If you must have fresh truffles, I would suggest taking several practice runs with preserved truffles.
Preserved Truffle Presentations
- Whole Truffles: This is the most popular form or presentation of truffles, especially since it adds a certain visual appeal. Others say the flavor and aroma is preserved better inside the whole truffle. They can be peeled, brushed and/or cleaned, in which case they are ready to use, or unpeeled, and dirty
- Chopped/ Sliced Truffles: The work has already been done for you. These gourmet truffles come brushed, cleaned, and sliced or chopped. If you can afford it, it will save you some dirty work.
- Peeled Truffles: Depending on the truffle, and the recipe, you might want to use a whole, unpeeled gourmet truffle, although most likely they will come already peeled. If you don’t wish to use the peelings, save them, and use them to garnish or flavor oils, soups, broths, or sauces.
- Brushed Truffles: Preserved truffles categorized as “brushed” have been gently brushed and cleaned to remove the dirt.
- Flash Frozen: The truffles are frozen extremely quickly to preserve flavor and aroma.
Storage and Preparation
- Preserved truffles can be stored at room temperature, and have a shelf life between one to two years.
- After opening, store in the refrigerator and use within one to two weeks.
- For best taste, premier cuisson truffles should be used immediately after opening.
- Truffles can also be frozen in a freezer-proof jar for about two weeks (although I wouldn't recommend this option).
Cooking with Preserved Truffles
If you have eaten or cooked with Fresh Truffles before, don’t expect to get the same flavor out of Preserved Truffles right out of the jar. Although aromatically exceptional in their own right, the preserving process masks their original Fresh flavor, so a couple of quick steps need to be taken to uncover their flavor again.
- First, never simply take a preserved truffle out of the jar, slice it, and eat it. It will taste something like cardboard. Remember, they are preserved in and have been sitting in brine, great for preserving the shelf life, but not so great for preserving taste.
- Remove the truffle from the brine and let it sit on a towel. Try to gently pat dry any brine liquid still on the truffle.
- Thinly slice the truffle with a truffle slicer.
- Then lightly sautee the truffle slivers on either side preferably in a truffle oil or a truffle butter.
- Then add to a dish at the end of the dishes cooking process. You may still want to further invigorate your dish with that truffle flavor by also adding additional truffle oil or butter to the dish.