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Image for blog - Borough Market Diaries: savouring winter truffles Image for blog - Borough Market Diaries: savouring winter truffles
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Borough Market Diaries: savouring winter truffles

Publisher - Great British Food Awards
published by

NatashaLS

Jan 23, 2023
7 minutes to read

Image for blog - Borough Market Diaries: savouring winter truffles

As winter truffle season comes to its last weeks, the Borough Market team celebrates this most prized ingredient.

“This is a really nice time of the year for truffles because you have both the black autumn truffle and the white winter truffle coming in from the Apennine Mountains in Emilia-Romagna,” says Mario Prati with typical enthusiasm. Mario, a chef by training, set up his Tartufaia stall at Borough Market to import high-quality truffles from his native Italy and, more recently, from selected suppliers in Spain and Australia.

“The black autumn truffle is a sub-species of the white summer truffle, but for me it is a lot more flavoursome,” Mario explains. He says that while the white summer truffle has no real scent – its attraction is all about its delicate flavour – the black autumn truffle (Tuber uncinatum) has a lovely pungent fragrance alongside the flavour, which gives it a bit more depth.

“It has many layers of flavour. I also find it more fun to cook with. The white summer truffle tastes beautiful, but you have to be very careful what you pair it with, as it can be easily overwhelmed by other ingredients. You need to cook it with a plain vehicle like a risotto or a plain pasta,” Mario explains. “The black autumn truffle is more intense, which means you can combine it with a much wider variety of ingredients.”

The season for black autumn truffles usually runs from roughly the end of August to the beginning of January. “Actually, this year has been a really good one so far,” says Mario. “The harvest is good and the quality is very high.”

Typically, November is the best time of the year for the white winter truffle (Tuber magnatum pico), which, like its summer cousin, has a real delicacy to it. This is the beginning of the season, so the demand won’t peak for another month or so, but the supply is good which means prices are lower. “The demand is always highest at Christmas, but November is when winter white truffles are at their best,” Mario continues.

Typically, larger truffles can be a bit more intense in flavour that smaller ones, but Mario says it’s always good to ask the seller what they think of their truffles on any given day, as this does not always hold true. The best way to keep truffles is in a jar or tub wrapped in tissue paper in the fridge. If you occasionally check them, and change the tissue whenever it gets damp, they’ll keep for a maximum of 10 days. “With truffles, eating them within the first week after they’re out of the ground is the best,” Mario says. “My regulars know our schedule and try to come on the day they arrive, so they get the first pick of the freshest truffles!”

It is, however, possible to extend the shelf-life of a prized truffle. “Many of our customers buy truffles that are larger than they need,” Mario tells me. “They then use the remaining truffle to make their own truffle butter.” As well as being utterly delicious, truffle butter stays good for about a fortnight, and can even be frozen for future use. Just grate the leftover truffle into a bowl of room-temperature butter (about 10g of truffle for 100g of butter), wrap it in paper and keep it in the fridge.

“Truffle butter goes great with poultry – just place it under the skin of a roast chicken. Then there are the classics, like egg dishes and pasta dishes,” our chef says. “Last week I made a pumpkin puree which I finished off with a little truffle butter and that worked very well. But remember, like with the truffles themselves, white winter truffle butter should be used with more delicate flavours, while the black autumn truffle butter is much more versatile.”

For more information about Borough Market visit boroughmarket.org.uk

RECIPE INSPIRATION

Potato Gnocchi, Truffle Butter & Wild Mushrooms

Image for blog - Borough Market Diaries: savouring winter truffles

This simple but very satisfying supper let’s top quality seasonal ingredients like wild mushrooms and winter truffle really shine

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