The Italian Black Summer truffle’s fruiting body has a rough alligator skin-like surface covered with small diamond-shaped projections, molded by stones surrounding it in the soil. When mature, the Italian Black Summer truffle is near black on the surface with a pale grey flesh and white marbling that does not change color when exposed to air. It has a rich woodsy aroma with flavors of garlic, wild mushroom and earthy hazelnut undertones.
As the name suggests, Black Summer truffles are harvested during summer months.
The Italian Black Summer truffle, Tuber Aestivum, is also known as “Scorzone”. Truffles are a species of subterranean fungi. They are part of a taxonomic group, classified as Ascomycetes and are not actually mushrooms. Members of this group produce spores that form inside cell bodies called asci. Truffles do not produce air-born spores; thus, to maintain reproduction, they rely on animals to spread their spores. Italian Black Summer truffles are sold for fresh eating and for processing into preserved truffle products such as oils, salts and honey.
Black Summer truffles are more subtle than the winter variety. They can be shaved fresh as a finishing element or infused into sauces to add depth. The volatile compounds that release truffles’ distinct aroma are compromised when overcooked, but fats can capture and encapsulate those aromas. Thus, it is often that they are paired with rich foods such as meat, cheese and eggs. Black Summer truffles pair well with lobster, caviar, fois gras, pasta, cream sauces, garlic, shallots, light-bodied vinegars, mascarpone, aged hard cheeses, citrus and herbs such as tarragon, basil and arugula. Truffles will keep, dry and tightly wrapped or stored in rice, for one to two weeks.
At the turn of the century about 1000-2000 tons of the Périgord Black truffle were harvested in Europe. The truffle was at the time available in abundant supplies. Early 20th Century war forced the decline and abandonment of truffle plantations. In a post-war era world, truffle harvests are both marginal and there locations kept highly secret.
The Italian Black Summer truffle grows naturally and elusively below the soil’s surface in open woodlands, characterized by the absence of plant life under the trees. Theses bare areas, signifying the presence of truffles are called terre brule (burned ground). The Italian Black Summer truffle, though most common in Italy, is not exclusive to Italy, rather it is found in abundance throughout Europe.