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The summer truffle, Tuber Aestivum, a taste of hazelnut and fresh mushrooms that blend into this delicate edible and offer a unique and surprising flavor.
The Summer Truffle
A delicate truffle
The summer truffle is also frequently called the Saint John truffle. In fact, it is on Saint John's Day (end of June) that this variety of truffle is fully mature.
The summer truffle, also called Maienco, Junenco or Aoustenque, is a unique and exceptional variety that was long ignored. Until twenty years ago, it was a delight for wild boar, who could easily enjoy it in the wild as it attracted neither gourmets nor cooks. The peasants even reserved it for domestic pigs who were crazy about it.
Today, it is used by many restaurateurs and delights truffle lovers who long for the arrival of the first Tuber Melanosporum at the end of the year. They appreciate its delicate flavours and its crunchiness from May onwards. This common truffle is also appreciated in Provence for the training of truffle dogs. It is in this context that its success began some forty years ago.
Why does it arouse so much interest? Those who defend it say that it is a beautiful product that should not be compared to the black truffle. Its price is five times lower than that of Tuber Melanosporum. Its taste is light and subtle.
Tuber Aestivum: characteristics
Where and when to find this paragon of sweetness?
The summer truffle is frequently found in Europe. It grows in France, Italy, Spain and Eastern Europe.
This variety of truffle is present under the same tree species and on the same types of soil as those where the beautiful black truffles grow; but during the summer period.
It prefers soils rich in calcium and magnesium, granular and full of small inclusions. To grow normally, it needs water and moisture. However, if there is too much water, it dies and if the moisture content at the soil surface drops too much, it does not grow either.
This explains why, during a drought, it is not very present at the foot of the trees it is particularly fond of, such as holm oaks, poplars, hazelnuts or lime trees, but also downy oaks, beeches, hornbeams, ashes or pines.
Its taste is not influenced by the tree under which it grows. It is the soil and the environment in which it grows that matter.
The summer truffle, grows between April and June depending on the spring rains. Its fructification takes place between June and September. It is often harvested while it is still immature. Present on the surface, it is very popular with insects and various animals that do not really give it time to ripen.
Truffle growers prefer to harvest it early when the heat is very hot. Indeed, as it outcrops on the surface of the ground, it can dry out quickly.
These different constraints also explain why not all summer truffles have the same taste. The younger they are picked, the more subtle the flavour. When ripe, they become more assertive.
A truffle with a singular appearance and taste
Truffles are distinguished from each other by their appearance. The size of the Tuber Aestivum rarely exceeds that of an egg, even if it can sometimes reach the size of a beautiful apple. It has a typical tuberous shape, which can remind you of kidneys. Its scales are particularly prominent and distinguish it with certainty from the white truffle, the Tuber Magnatum, native to Italy, which remains smooth and is completely white.
The outside of the summer truffle, the peridium, is a dark hue between brown and black. It is decorated with small pyramidal warts. These warts are protruding and slightly striated and bring this edible truffle closer to one of its close relatives, the Burgundy truffle, otherwise known as the Tuber Uncinatum.
The gleba, the inside of the truffle, ranges from beige to brown and can even be brown or sometimes grey. When it reaches maturity, the ivory veins that stripe it are more or less yellowish and present an anastomosing and branched appearance. Specialists confirm that if the inner flesh of the fruit is clear or very white, it is unripe.
It has a delicate smell of rave or hazelnut and when it is very fresh, it has a pleasant aroma of wild mushrooms.
Some of her lovers report that she smells like mushrooms, cooked corn and warm, moist soil. For them, it remains one of the best edible foods of the summer and can easily find its place in many, many dishes.
An ideal truffle to feast on one's sins.
It requires much less assiduous care than that given to the queen of truffles, Tuber Melanosporum. It is for this reason and because it is possible to harvest up to 150 tons of this truffle in good years, that its price remains very reasonable to keep all its appeal, even in summer.
Many events are indeed organized in the markets of Sainte-Alvère, Sarlat, and even in Sorges, the bastions of the Perigord truffle culture, around this summery and tasty truffle.
They allow everyone, curious or amateurs, to discover this simple and less expensive treasure and to enjoy it without any ulterior motive.
The summer truffle is now a popular choice with restaurateurs and sublimates many summer recipes. Much less expensive than the winter truffle, it is nevertheless a delicacy that it is very tasteful to offer or discover during a meal with family or friends.
The summer truffle in gastronomy
Sublimate delicious summer recipes
The summer truffle exhales a particularly attractive forest mushroom scent. In the mouth, it reminds one of delicately buttered hazelnut, but its aromas are very volatile and do not last long.
It is therefore advisable to eat it raw, simply grated on a small potato salad still warm. As its skin is a little thick, cooks peel it and use the skins to make a delicate purée with an ideal flavour.
It can be eaten as an aperitif, simply sliced on small canapés or cut into thin strips on a small plate, sprinkled with salt and drizzled with olive oil.
The summer truffle enhances the flavour of an omelet or scrambled eggs and adds body to all fish or meat sauces. It can even be used to make truffle butter or ice cream with a delicate hazelnut flavour.
It is perfect in risottos and pasta in half-cooked and half-cooked versions.
It is perfect with poultry in cream sauce or delicious white fish. This is how the Pourcel brothers serve it, accompanied by an excellent white wine such as Pouilly fumé.
Simply infused in a little cream, Tuber Aestivum diffuses very subtle aromas and flavours that finely enhance many dishes. Raw, it retains its crunchiness and enhances those who taste it with a more pronounced perfume.
It can be used in restaurants as well as in your kitchen. It is easy to accommodate and is self-sufficient. It enchants the whole summer period.