TRUFFLES IN ISTRIA
Istria, gastronomic jewels mine
The Istrian white truffle is one of the most renowned in the world, and gourmets and culinary connoisseurs are increasingly attracted by black truffles as well
The discovery of the Istrian white truffle occurred some 80 years ago with the development of Parezana (narrow-gauge railway) which connected Poreč and Trieste. At that time a private company, located around the very centre of vintage – Livade, started to exploit and sell truffles. Namely, the white Istrian truffle can be found in almost all valleys of the region, but most truffles can be found in the forests stretching in the river Mirna valley.
After World War II, truffles were marketed solely by state owned companies interested solely in direct profit, without promoting and valuating the original domestic product. However, since 1990 the family Zigante starts to commercialize fresh truffles, endeavouring to valuate it as a domestic product recognizable in Europe.
Due to the continuous work on improving their status, Istrian truffles are increasingly strengthening their position in the preparation of premium culinary specialties arising from traditional local dishes. It can actually be said without hesitation that truffles today are a real gastronomic hit of Istria
Season: from May till November
Istria produces significant quantities of this black truffle variety, most often growing on sunnier parts of compact terrains with more clay. Tuber Aestivum connects with roots of several trees: oak, beech, poplar, hazel, pine and linden. It grows rather close to the surface and reveals its presence through cracks in the ground. It can sometimes also be found under a pile of fallen leaves. It is picked from May till November and in favourable weather conditions it can also be found during December.
The shape and colour of Tuber Aestivum skin is similar to the skin of Melanosporum but the colour of meat is white and it does not change: the gleba (fleshy spore-bearing inner mass of fungi) is whitish, firm and hard and it finally turns yellowish, reddish-brown and olive-brown. The dark brown or black skin (peridium) resembles a rough bark. The body is more or less spherical, sometimes anomalously shaped and resembling a lump. With an average size from 2 to 10 cm, Tuber Aestivum is among the relatively big truffle varieties. Its scent is pale and agreeable but it does not conceal the typical fungi scent. This truffle has a gentler aroma and thus its price is also lower.
Season: from December to March
The production of this truffle is very small, approximately 5% of black truffle production. Tuber Brumale grows at sunny areas in well drained porous limestone soils. The key precondition for the development of the body of this truffle variety are summer storms and well distributed rainfalls throughout the year. They are ripening in the winter, between December and March. They connect with roots of oak, poplar, pine and willow but they are most fond of hazel and linden.
The gleba (fleshy inner mass) of Tuber Brumale is firm, at the beginning white, then grey and finally blackish-violet. It finally turns brownish and blackish but it is brighter than the black truffle. It is streaked with several thicker widely spaced white lines which do not change their colour in contact with air. Their skin (peridium) is dark and less rough than the skin of Melanosporum. This truffle variety grows to the size from 2 to 5 or 10 cm. Its scent is aggressive but pleasant and it is exactly the scent that makes it easier recognizable than other truffles. But its flavour is less significant than the flavour of Tuber Melanosporum.
Season: from September to January
Tuber Unicantum is the most widespread edible truffle in Europe. Molecularly it is equal to Aestivum but it prefers shady places and it thus differs in flavour, scent and spore morphology. solely due to the influence of the environment. Unicantum connects with roots of oak, beech, hazel, poplar, pine and linden trees and the ripening time is between September and January.
The fleshy inner mass (gleba) of a ripe Tuber Unicantum is firm and dark brown, streaked with many thin white lines which do not change their colour in contact with air. Their skin (peridium) is dark and less rough than the skin of Aestivum. It is shaped like an anomalous tuber and its size ranges between 2 and 9 cm. It is pleasant in flavour and scent and tastes better than a summer truffle.
Tuber Magnatum Pico
Season: from October to December
Magnatum Pico is the most exclusive edible truffle in the world and its price reaches up to 3000 Euro per kilogram. It is mostly picked in Italy, and it can also be found solely in Istria, Slovenia and Hungary. It grows in predominantly grey limestone soils of high microporosity with only few stones. It always chooses shady forest areas with limited changes in temperature. Magnatum Pico connects with roots of poplar, willow, hazel, oak and hazel trees and the time of its harvest is very short – from October to December-
The fruit is usually spherically anomalously shaped and it most often grows to the size from 2 to 15 cm. Its skin (peridium) is smooth and ochre yellow or olive yellow in colour, and sometimes it can reveal a more rustic cracked area or light red spots. The gleba (fleshy inner mass) is firm and soapy in structure, at the beginning whitish and then pale yellow, ochre brown, reddish brown, streaked with many thin white lines. Intensive in scent and strong but pleasant in flavour.